The testes are two egg-shaped glands located inside the scrotum (a loose sack of skin underneath the penis). These glands produce sperm and male sex hormones, such as testosterone.
When cells displaying uncontrolled growth, invasion, and/or metastasis arise in the tissues of the testes, a cancer may develop. Testicular cancer is rare when compared to other types of cancer, but is the most common cancer affecting American males between the ages of 15 and 34.
Testicular Cancer Risk Factors
- Age: Testicular cancer can develop at any age, but typically affects teens and young men. Men between the ages of 15 and 34 have the greatest risk.
- Cryptorchidism: During fetal development, the testes are formed in the abdomen of the fetus. Most testes descend into the scrotum before birth, or shortly thereafter. Cryptochidism is a rare condition in which the testes never descend, remaining in the abdomen. Men with cryptochidism have elevated testicular cancer risk.
- Testicle Abnormalities: Disorders such as Klinefelter’s syndrome may increase your chances of developing testicular cancer. This syndrome results in the development of small, infertile testes.
- Ethnicity: White men are more likely to develop testicular cancer than any other race or ethnicity. The reason for this racial predominance remains unknown.
- Family History: You testicular cancer risk is elevated if you have a family member with testicular cancer.
Testicular Cancer Outlook
Testicular cancer is a very treatable disease. The outlook (prognosis) for each patient depends on the type, size, and behavior of their cancer. Fast-spreading cancers generally yield a poorer outlook than less-aggressive cancers. The 5-year survival rate for testicular cancer patients is more than 95%.
Testicular Cancer Prevention
There is no way to prevent testicular cancer. The risk factors associated with disease, such as age and ethnicity, are unavoidable.
In the even of testicular cancer development, regular self-examinations may help you detect the tumor at the earliest possible stage. These exams cannot prevent cancer, but they can certainly help diagnose testicular cancer before it metastasizes into other parts of the body.