Testicular Cancer

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Testicular cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in one or both testicles. The testicles are a pair of male sex glands that make and store sperm. The testicles also make male hormones. They are located under the penis in a sac-like pouch called the scrotum. There are three main types of testicular cancer:

  • Seminomas
  • Nonseminomas (yolk sac, embryonal cell carcinoma, teratomas, and choriocarcinoma)
  • Stromal cell tumors

The causes of testicular cancer are unknown. However, research shows that certain risk factors are associated with the disease.

These factors increase your chance of developing testicular cancer:

  • Personal or family history of testicular cancer
  • Race: White
  • Age: 25-35
  • Abnormal testicular development, such as that seen in Klinefelter syndrome
  • Undescended testicle that did not move down into the scrotum before birth


Possible symptoms include:

  • A painless lump or swelling in either testicle
  • Enlargement or swelling of a testicle or change in the way it feels
  • Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin
  • Fluid in the scrotum that appears suddenly
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
  • Lower back pain (in later stages of the cancer)
  • Enlarged breasts


Tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • Excisional biopsy 

Once testicular cancer is found, tests may be done to find out if the cancer has spread and, if so, to what extent. These imaging tests of the body may include:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


Options include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy


If you were born with undescended testicles, having surgery to correct this condition may reduce your risk of getting testicular cancer.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) does not recommend regular screening by a doctor or self-screening in men who do not have any symptoms. However, the American Cancer Society recommends that your doctor at your routine cancer-related check-ups should do a testicular exam. No studies have been done that look at the benefit or harm of screening for testicular cancer. Discuss screening with your doctor, especially if you are at high risk for testicular cancer.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.