Testicular cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles.
What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is a potentially deadly disease. Although it accounts for only 1.2% of all cancers in males, cancer of the testis accounts for about 11%-13% of all cancer deaths of men between the ages of 15-35.
Testicular cancer has two peaks according to age. The first peak occurs before the age of 45 and accounts for about 90% of cases of testicular cancer. A second much smaller peak affects men over 50.
What are the possible signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?
Testicular cancers are often (90%-95%) curable even if they are metastatic.
The first and early sign of testicular cancer is most commonly a little (“pea-sized”) lump on the testis (painless testicular lump). There may be no real pain, at most just a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin, perhaps a sensation of dragging and heaviness. The signs and symptoms of cancer of the testicle may include…
- a lump in or on a testicle (testicular lump) is the most common sign;
- any enlargement or swelling of a testicle and/or scrotum;
- shrinking of a testicle;
- a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum (scrotal heaviness);
- a dull ache in the lower abdomen (lower abdominal pain) or the groin (groin ache);
- a collection of fluid in the scrotum;
- discomfort or pain in a testicle or the scrotum;
- enlargement or tenderness of the breasts;
- lower back pain due to retroperitoneal disease spread; and
- enlarged or swollen lymph nodes or masses due to disease spread.
The best hope for early detection of testicular cancer is a simple three-minute self-examination once a month. The ideal time for this exam is after a warm bath or shower when the scrotal skin is most relaxed.
Gently roll each testicle between the thumb and fingers of both hands. If any hard lumps or nodules are felt, a man should see a doctor promptly. A lump may not be malignant, but only a doctor can make the diagnosis.
What are the advanced testicular cancer symptoms and signs?
Advanced testicular cancer symptoms may include
There can be some overlap of symptoms and signs between advanced and early testicular cancer in some individuals. In addition, many symptoms listed above may occur with other diseases. Consequently, individuals should seek medical caregivers (primary care physicians, urologists, oncologists, and pathologists, for example) to get a definitive diagnosis.