What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is a highly treatable and usually curable type of cancer that accounts for less than 1% of all malignancies in males. Cancers of the testicles are usually found in young adults; however, a testicular cancer diagnosis can occur at any age and are sometimes associated with an undescended testicle.
What are the types of testicular cancer?
More than 90% of cancers of the testicle develop in special cells known as germ cells. These are the cells that make sperm. There are 2 main types of germ cell tumors (GCTs) in men: the seminomatous types and the non-seminomatous types.
Seminomas tend to grow and spread more slowly than non-seminomas. The 2 main subtypes of these tumors are classical (or typical) seminomas and spermatocytic seminomas. Doctors can tell them apart by how they look under the microscope.
Classical seminoma: More than 95% of seminomas are classical. These usually occur in men between 25 and 45.
Spermatocytic seminoma: This rare type of seminoma tends to occur in older men. The average age of men diagnosed with spermatocytic seminoma is about 65.
Spermatocytic tumors tend to grow more slowly and are less likely to spread to other parts of the body than classical seminomas.
Some seminomas can increase blood levels of a protein called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). HCG can be detected by a simple blood test and is considered a tumor marker for certain types of testicular cancer. It can be used for diagnosis and to check how the patient is responding to treatment.
These types of germ cell tumors usually occur in men between their late teens and early 30s. There are 4 main types of non-seminoma tumors:
- Embryonal carcinoma
- Yolk sac carcinoma
Most tumors are a mix of 2 or more different types (sometimes with a seminoma component as well), but this does not change treatment. All non-seminoma cancers are treated the same way.
What are the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?
Warning signs and symptoms of testicular cancer may include:
- A lump or swelling in either testicle
- Breast soreness or enlargement
- An ache in the groin or abdomen
- A feeling or pain or heaviness in the scrotum or testicle
- Back pain
- Sudden fluid in the scrotum
What are the causes and risk factors of testicular cancer?
The exact cause of testicular cancer is unknown. There are certain risk factors that may increase your chance of developing the disease, but most individuals with testicular cancer don’t have any known risk factors.
According to research from the American Cancer Society, you may be more likely to develop testicular cancer if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Family history of testicular cancer
- HIV infection
- An undescended testicle
- Carcinoma in situ of the testicle
- Having had testicular cancer before
- Race/ethnicity (risk among white men is 4 to 5 times more than Black and Asian American men)
- Body size (some studies have found that tall men may have a higher risk)
Testicular Cancer Treatment at Baptist Cancer Center
Just like all cancers treated at Baptist Cancer Center, testicular cancer treatment is approached with care and expertise from our team of skilled doctors, surgeons and medical oncologists.