What Are Chances of Testicular Cancer?

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Paradoxically, this infrequent carcinoma within the male genitals is the number one cancer in men ages 20 to 34, which can also spread outside the testicles.

⚠️ Use Discretion: Graphic human anatomy.

Rare But Dangerous

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Of all cancers, at 1 percent, testicular cancer is very rare. There are less than 20,000 cases per year reported in the United States. Paradoxi­cally, this infrequent carci­noma within the male genitals that manufac­ture hormones and sperm is the number one cancer in men ages 20–34. With early detection, survival rate is over 90 percent.

Testicular Cancer Symptoms

Having a high survival rate, the most important question to you, perhaps, is how do you rule it out—or how is it detected early? The most common symptom is a lump on a testicle (differs from dermal bump). Swelling of the testicle (with or without pain) or a feeling of weight within the scrotum may be detected.

Carcinoma can also spread outside of the testicles. This can cause unusual abdominal discomfort. By means of the lymphatic system, pain can also be felt in your lower back. Coughing can produce shortness of breath. If it travels to the lymph nodes in your chest, nipples may feel tender.

It is fairly easy to check for lumps while cleaning up in the shower or bath. Regular examina­tion allows you to detect subtle differ­ences. Do not confuse a testicular lump with the epididymis—a convoluted duct behind either testicle.

Schedule an appoint­ment with a urologist soon after a lump is discovered. A blood test is warranted. Ultra­sound can help determine if the lump is solid or filled with fluid.

Treatment For Testicular Cancer

Treatment options depend upon the stage at which the tumor is discovered. Radia­tion, chemo­therapy or radical orchiec­tomy (also called orchidec­tomy or testec­tomy). The latter removes the spermatic cord along with the testicle and tumor.

Testicular mass causes other than a testicular tumor need to be excluded before radical orchiectomy is performed. If you have orchiectomy due to cancer, your doctor may follow up with chemo­therapy or radiation to lower the chances that any leftover cancer cells spread.

After treatment with radical orchiec­tomy and external-beam radiation therapy, the 5-year disease-free survival rate is 98 percent for stage I tumors and 92–94 percent for stage IIA tumors. For higher-stage disease that has been treated with radical orchiec­tomy followed by chemo­therapy, the 5-year disease-free survival rate is 35–75 percent.

Chances of Testicular Cancer
Orchiectomy testicle photographed with patient’s permission. —Alfred Bester

Certain treatments cause temporary or perma­nent infertility. If you are diagnosed with testicu­lar cancer, but still want to have children, sperm banking prior to under­going any treat­ment is recommended.

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