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Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable and survivable types of cancer if detected early. Testicular cancer occurs when cells in a testicle become cancerous. A disease most often associated with young men, testicular cancer is often diagnosed in men ages 20 to 34. The disease is essentially unpreventable as most risk factors are present at birth, and men with no known risk factors can also be diagnosed with testicular cancer. However, if detected and treated in early stages when the cancer is only in the testicle, testicular cancer patients have a 99 percent chance of survival after five years. Most cases of testicular cancer are initially identified by the patient, making self-observation critical to early detection.

Statistics 

  • In 2022, an estimated 9,910 new cases of testicular cancer and 460 deaths from the disease will occur in the United States.
  • In Texas, an estimated 855 men are expected to be diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2022, with 43 deaths from the disease.
  • Testicular cancer is an uncommon form of cancer. About one in 250 males will have testicular cancer in his lifetime, and an estimated one in 5,000 men will die from the disease. The rate of testicular cancer cases has increased over many decades, but the rate of increase has slowed recently.

Risk Factors

  • Age: Men between the ages of 20 and 34 account for about half of all testicular cancer cases.
  • Family History: Men with close relatives (father or brother) who have had testicular cancer face an increased risk for the disease. Klinefelter’s syndrome is inherited and carries an increased risk for testicular cancer. Men who have had cancer in one testicle are at increased risk to develop cancer in the other testicle.
  • Race: In the United States, Caucasian men are more likely to develop testicular cancer than men of other races.
  • Undescended Testicle: Men who have one or two undescended testicles face a significantly increased risk for testicular cancer. Surgery to correct an undescended testicle may decrease the risk if performed early in childhood.
  • Carcinoma in Situ: Having carcinoma in situ can lead to the development of invasive cancer. 
  • HIV/AIDS: Men with untreated HIV/AIDS may have an elevated risk of testicular cancer.

Symptoms

Many cases of testicular cancer are detected by men who report unusual symptoms to their physicians. Monthly self-checks are very important for early detection of testicular cancer. If any of the following symptoms are present, men are encouraged to consult their physician for proper testing.

  • Sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum
  • Change in feeling of a testicle
  • A lump in the testicle or scrotum
  • Discomfort or swelling/lumps in the groin or lower abdomen area
  • Pain, numbness, or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum area
  • Heavy feeling in the scrotum
  • Lower back, chest, or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bloody sputum or phlegm
  • Coughing up blood
  • Headaches or confusion
  • Blood clots, also known as deep vein thromboses
  • Growth or tenderness of breast tissue
  • Signs of puberty at an abnormally young age

Treatment Options

There are many treatment options for people with testicular cancer, and these are often used together or in sequence. The treatment plan recommended by the physician will depend on how advanced the cancer is and if it has spread to other parts of the body. Treatments can include surgery, radiation therapy, systemic (medication) therapy such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant. Some treatments can cause infertility, and patients will talk with their physician about options to preserve fertility such as sperm banking. Texas Oncology encourages patients to consider participating in a clinical trial when available.

Sources: American Cancer Society, American Society of Clinical Oncology, National Cancer Institute, and Texas Cancer Registry


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