Testicular Cancer (cont.)
In this Article
- Testicular cancer facts*
- What is testicular cancer?
- What are testicular cancer risk factors and causes?
- How is testicular cancer detected? What are testicular cancer symptoms and warning signs?
- How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
- How is testicular cancer treated? What are the side effects of treatment for testicular cancer?
- Is follow-up treatment necessary for testicular cancer? What does it involve?
- Are clinical trials (research studies) available for men with testicular cancer?
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is a disease in which cells become malignant (cancerous) in one or both testicles.
The testicles (also called testes or gonads) are a pair of male sex glands. They produce and store sperm and are the main source of testosterone (the major male hormone) in men. These hormones control the development of the reproductive organs and other male physical characteristics. The testicles are located under the penis in a sac-like pouch called the scrotum.
Based on the characteristics of the cells in the tumor, testicular cancers are classified as seminomas or nonseminomas. Other types of cancer that arise in the testicles are rare and are not described here. Seminomas may be one of three types: classic, anaplastic, or spermatocytic. Types of nonseminomas include choriocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, and yolk sac tumors. Testicular tumors may contain both seminoma and nonseminoma cells.
Testicular cancer accounts for only 1 percent of all cancers in men in the United States. About 8,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer, and about 390 men die of this disease each year. Testicular cancer occurs most often in men between the ages of 20 and 39, and is the most common form of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 34. It is most common in white men, especially those of Scandinavian descent. The testicular cancer rate has more than doubled among white men in the past 40 years, but has only recently begun to increase among black men. The reason for the racial differences in incidence is not known.
What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?
The exact causes of testicular cancer are not known. However, studies have shown that several factors increase a man's chance of developing this disease.
- Undescended testicle (cryptorchidism): Normally, the testicles descend from inside the abdomen into the scrotum before birth. The risk of testicular cancer is increased in males with a testicle that does not move down into the scrotum. This risk does not change even after surgery to move the testicle into the scrotum. The increased risk applies to both testicles.
- Congenital abnormalities: Men born with abnormalities of the testicles, penis, or kidneys, as well as those with inguinal hernia (hernia in the groin area, where the thigh meets the abdomen), may be at increased risk.
- History of testicular cancer: Men who have had testicular cancer are at increased risk of developing cancer in the other testicle.
- Family history of testicular cancer: The risk for testicular cancer is greater in men whose brother or father has had the disease.
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