Testicular cancers are relatively rare but highly curable, and occur predominantly in young and middle aged males. Testicular cancers were among the first types of cancers to be cured by radiation and/or chemotherapy, and treatment has been refined over the last two decades. Currently, over 70% of all patients are curable regardless of the extent of cancer. Thus, all treatment of testicular cancer is delivered with the intent to cure. However, it is important to know the extent of cancer and the specific type of testicular cancer in order to administer the best therapy.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men 15 to 35 years old. Men who have an undescended testicle (a testicle that has never moved down into the scrotum) are at higher risk of developing testicular cancer than men whose testicles have moved normally down into the scrotum. This is true even if surgery has been performed early in life to place the testicle in the appropriate place in the scrotum.
You can’t be sure you have testicular cancer based on symptoms alone, so it’s important to see a doctor about any testicular symptoms that concern you. Don’t wait.
Symptoms in the testicles*
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump
on or in a testicle. Sometimes the testicle may become swollen or larger
, without a lump. (It’s normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other, and for one to hang lower than the other.) Some testicular tumors might cause pain
, but most of the time they do not. Men with testicular cancer may also have a heavy or aching feeling in the lower belly or scrotum
Each normal testicle has a small, coiled tube (called the epididymis) that can feel like a small bump on the upper or middle outer side of the testicle. Normal testicles also contain blood vessels, supporting tissues, and tubes that carry sperm. All these things can feel bumpy, and sometimes men confuse these normal structures with cancer. If you have any doubts, ask a doctor.
Symptoms in other parts of the body*
Breast growth or soreness:
In rare cases, testicular cancers can cause men’s breasts to grow or become sore. This is because certain types of testicular cancer can make high levels of hormones that develop the breasts. Some men might also notice a loss of sexual desire.
Early sSigns of puberty in boys:
Some testicular cancers make androgens (male sex hormones). This may not cause any specific symptoms in men, but in boys it can cause signs of puberty, such as a deepening of the voice
and the growth of facial and body hair
, abnormally early.
Symptoms of testicular cancer that has spread (advanced cancer)*
If testicular cancer is not found early, it can spread to other parts of the body. Even when testicular cancer has spread, many men still have no symptoms. But some men might have some of the following symptoms:
- Low back pain, from cancer spread to the lymph nodes (bean-sized collections of immune cells) in back of the belly
- ,Shortness of breath, chest pain, or a cough (even coughing up blood) may develop from cancer spread in the lungs.
- Belly pain, either from enlarged lymph nodes or because the cancer has spread to the liver.
- Headaches or confusion, from cancer spread in the brain.