Testicular cancer awareness

What is testicular cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, testicular cancer occurs when cells in the testicles begin to grow out of control.  The testicles are made up of many different kinds of cells, all of which can develop into one or more forms of cancer. Therefore, it’s important to know the type of cell testicular cancer begins in as well as the type of cancer.

There are multiple types of testicular cancer. However, the most common type is a germ cell tumor. The American Cancer Society categorizes germ cell tumors into two different forms including seminomas and non-seminomas.

Seminomas are more likely to occur in men ages 30 to 50 and usually grow and spread more slowly than non-seminomas. Non-seminomas are more likely to occur in men anytime from their late teens into their early 30’s and usually grow and spread more rapidly than seminomas. Other less common forms of testicular cancer include stromal tumors, Leydig cell tumors and Sertoli cell tumors.  

What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?

A risk factor is anything that changes your chance of developing a disease — some risk factors can be controlled like diet and lifestyle, while others, like age or family history, cannot.  A few risk factors that make men more likely to develop testicular cancer include:

∫ An undescended testicle –when one or both testicles fail to move from the belly into the scrotum before birth.

∫ Family history of testicular cancer — having a father or brother with testicular cancer.

∫ HIV infection.

∫ Carcinoma in situ of the testicle — a condition in which cells look abnormal under a microscope but have not spread outside of where they are formed.

∫ Having previously had testicular cancer.

∫ Age — about half of all testicular cancers occur in men ages 20 to 34.

∫ Certain races/ethnicities –testicular cancer is four to five times more common in white men than African-American or Asian-American men.

Signs and Symptoms

Some men have no signs and symptoms of testicular cancer, but others may experience:

∫ A lump on the testicle

∫ A swollen testicle or an increase in size of the testicle

∫ Pain

∫ Heaviness or aching in the lower belly or scrotum

∫ Sore breasts or an increase in breast size

There are a number of non-cancerous conditions that cause similar signs and symptoms of testicular cancer.  If you experience any of the symptoms noted, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Prognosis and prevention

A prognosis is the chance of recovery or outcome of a health condition.  The prognosis for testicular cancer depends on the type of testicular cancer and the stage it is in.  Fortunately, testicular cancer can usually be cured with treatment.

In general, the sooner you diagnose cancer, the better the outcome.  Be sure to visit your healthcare provider on a regular basis and contact them if you experience any signs or symptoms of testicular cancer.

For more information on testicular cancer, talk to your healthcare provider or call HealthLink Littauer at (518) 736-1120. You can email us at or visit our wellness center on 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown.  We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.

Alicia DeRuscio B.S., is a Community Education Assistant at HealthLink Littauer

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