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Why testicular cancer is caused?

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. However, knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your
doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

The following factors can raise a man’s risk of developing testicular cancer. However, it is important to note that the cause of testicular cancer is not known.

  • Age: More than half of testicular cancer diagnoses occur in men between the ages of 20 and 45. However, men of any age can develop this disease, including men in their teens and in their 60s, so it is important that any man with symptoms of
    testicular cancer visit the doctor.
  • Cryptorchidism: Cryptorchidism is an undescended testicle, meaning that one or
    both testicles do not move down into the scrotum before birth as they should. Men with this condition have an increased risk of developing testicular cancer. This risk may be lowered if surgery is used to correct the condition before the boy
    reaches puberty. Some doctors recommend surgery for cryptorchidism when a boy is between six and 15 months to reduce the risk of infertility. Infertility is the inability to produce children. Because cryptorchidism is often corrected at a
    young age, many men may not know if they had the condition. Family history. A man who has a close relative, particularly a brother, who has had testicular cancer has an increased risk of developing testicular cancer.
  • Personal history: Men who have had cancer in one testicle have an increased risk of developing cancer in the other testicle. It is estimated that out of every 100 men with testicular cancer, two will develop cancer in the other testicle. 
  • Race: Although men of any race can develop testicular cancer, white men are more likely than men of other races to be diagnosed with testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is rare in black men. However, black men with testicular cancer are more likely to die of the cancer than white men, particularly if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body when it is diagnosed.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection: Men with HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused by the HIV virus have a slightly higher risk of developing seminoma.

Source: Cancer.Net’s Guide to Testicular Cancer (4/2016)

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Why does testicular cancer cause infertility?

Although testicular cancer and the related treatments can cause infertility, it is important to note that testicular cancer does not always cause infertility, and many men go on to have healthy biological children of their own. We do advise that you discuss the possible side effects of testicular cancer and treatments options before starting your treatment so that you are aware of the risks and what your options may be in relation to fertility.

Testicular cancer is usually developed in only one testicle. The remaining testicle usually produces enough testosterone to keep you healthy.

Chemotherapy can cause temporary or permanent infertility in men with testicular cancer. For men who want assurance that they will be able to father children after treatment have the option of storing sperm in a sperm bank. Advise with your doctors, but we recommend starting this process early on in your diagnosis. We believe it is better to be safe than sorry, even if you do not plan on having children now. We recommend banking sperm.

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Who is at risk for testicular cancer?

The short answer is any male with testicle(s). Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in males ages 15-34, although many cases fall outside these parameters. There is one male diagnosed every hour with testicular cancer.

Risk Factors:

Below are some of the risk factors associated with the disease.

  • Having an undescended testicle. This is a condition in which one or both testicles fail to move from the abdomen, where they develop before birth, into the scrotum. Undescended testicles may increase the risk for development of testicular cancer. Also called cryptorchidism.
  • Having had abnormal development of the testicles
  • Having a personal history of testicular cancer. About 3-4% of men who have been cured of cancer in one testicle will eventually develop cancer in the other testicle.
  • Having a family history of testicular cancer (especially in a father or brother). Don’t worry, only a small number of testicular cancers occur in families. Most men with testicular cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
  • The risk for testicular cancer is about 4-5 times great in white males compared to black men and that of Asian –American men. The reason is unknown, but the risk of developing the disease is also highest among men living in the United States and Europe.
  • Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in males ages 15-34 

Risk Factor Myths (unproven/controversial risk factors):

There are numerous myths and controversial activities that people believe contribute to the disease, including horseback riding, a prior injury or trauma to the testicles, cycling, and strenuous activity.


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What testicular cancer feels like?

Detecting testicular cancer can be done through a simple Testicular Cancer Self Exam (TSE). We recommend doing a TSE once a month in the shower – the warm water relaxes your scrotum and makes it easier to feel if there has been a change.

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What are Testicular Cancer Symptoms?

The most common signs of testicular cancer are lumps, swelling and/or pain in a testicle or in your scrotum. Usually lumps are painless or mildly uncomfortable, so don’t wait to feel pain before seeing a urologist or family doctor. Swelling or enlargement of a testicle or your scrotum can happen without a lump present, so if you’re experiencing anything out of the ordinary, you should have it checked out by a urologist or see your family doctor. [1]

It’s important to know that some of the common symptoms of testicular cancer may not mean you actually have a cancer diagnosis. That said, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, we recommend you see a urologist or doctor immediately .

If left unchecked, testicular cancer can spread to other parts of the body working its way up your torso.  If it spreads some guys will feel pain in their lower backs as it moves to their lymph nodes. If it reaches the lungs, symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or a cough—eventually coughing up blood—can occur. [1]

Don’t wait for symptoms to worsen before you see your doctor. Even if you have testicular cancer, an early diagnosis can save your life.

[1]National Cancer Institute, 2014.

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What is Treatment Like?

Treatment of testicular cancer can vary. The stage of the cancer (how far along it is), whether it’s spread to other parts of the body, tumor size, family history and personal medical history all affect how treatment is approached.[2] We can’t stress this enough: the sooner you start working with a doctor, the easier your treatment and recovery—as well as your chances for survival—are likely to be. In general, though, a urologist will recommend one or more of these treatment options:

Surgery (orchiectomy) : Surgery to remove the affected testicle, and sometimes some of the lymph nodes, is usually the first step. Lab tests will determine the type and stage of cancer at hand, and will help a doctor determine if additional treatments are necessary.

Radiation: High-energy X-rays or other types of radiation are used to kill cancer cells. External radiation directs radiation toward the cancer from outside the body. Internal radiation delivers radiation directly into or near the cancer.

Chemotherapy: Powerful, cancer-killing drugs are used to stop the cancer from growing, either by killing the cancer cells or stopping them from dividing.

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Will I be Able to Have Kids?

The removal of one testicle, coupled with other aspects of treatment, can mean a decrease in fertility. Before undergoing treatment, virtually all testicular cancer patients “bank” sperm, which is like donating to a sperm bank, only the sperm is for your future use. Not all testicular cancer survivors become infertile, but banking sperm is considered good “insurance” to have, just in case. And we strongly recommend this. Contact us if you have more questions about banking sperm.

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Will I Lose a Testicle?

When diagnosed with testicular cancer, they will remove the cancerous testicle through a surgery called an Inguinal Orchiectomy:

Inguinal orchiectomy: A procedure to remove the entire testicle through an incision in the groin. A tissue sample from the testicle is then viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells. (The surgeon does not cut through the scrotum into the testicle to remove a sample of tissue for biopsy, because if cancer is present, this procedure could cause it to spread into the scrotum and lymph nodes. It's important to choose a surgeon who has experience with this kind of surgery.) If cancer is found, the cell type (seminoma or non seminoma) is determined in order to help plan treatment. [1]

Can I get prosthetic/implant after surgery? 

Artificial and prosthetic testicle implants are available. The prosthetic testicle is implanted in the scrotum and has a similar weight and texture to that of a normal testicle. Some men have expressed that a prosthetic testicle is uncomfortable, and many opt to not have one. As each individual is different, we encourage talking with your doctor about the the options, risks, and best timing when considering a prosthetic/implant.


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How is Testicular Cancer Diagnosed?

How is Testicular Cancer Diagnosed?

When a lump is detected—either by you or a physician—you should seek the opinion of a urologist as soon as possible. Urologists usually recommend one or more of the following tests to confirm whether a lump is a sign of testicular cancer:

  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound tests use sound waves to help doctors create a “picture” of what’s going on in specific areas of the body. In this case, the ultrasound focuses on the testicles and scrotum, and can determine whether lumps are solid or fluid-filled, and whether they’re on or inside the testicle.
  • Blood Test: We all naturally have what are known as “tumor markers” in our blood. Tumor marker levels tend to be elevated when cancer is present, but they can be elevated for other reasons as well. High tumor marker levels don’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but they can help doctors make an accurate diagnosis.
  • Testicle Removal (orchiectomy): If your urologist has good reason to believe the lump is cancerous, surgery to remove the testicle may be recommended. This allows further examination and lab testing of the testicle to determine if the lump is indeed cancerous, and if it is, what kind of cancer is in play.[1]
[1] National Cancer Institute, 2014.

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12600 Hill Country Blvd, Suite R-270 Austin, TX 78738 • • 855-390-8231

© 2017 Testicular Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit | Privacy Policy