Testicular Cancer

Please note: the information below does not constitute medical advice. If you have any concerns at all, speak to your GP or consultant.

 

 

 

Approved:  April 2024

 

 

 

Review date: April 2026

 

About testicular cancer

Over 2,400 males are diagnosed with testicular cancer in the UK every year. It most commonly affects males between the ages of 15-45 and nearly half of those diagnosed in the UK will be under the age of 35. For most males diagnosed with testicular cancer the outlook is positive.

Symptoms

Symptoms might include the following:

  • A small pea-sized lump on the testicle. Usually this will be painless.
  • A dragging sensation, ache or pain in the scrotum.
  • Breast swelling or tenderness (called gynaecomastia). Although rare, some types of testicular cancer produces a hormone that can cause breast tenderness and discomfort.

Causes and risk factors

Possible causes and risk factors include:

  • An undescended testicle(s), also known as Cryptorchidism. Around 10% of men diagnosed with testicular cancer have a history of this condition. Even if corrective surgery is performed the risk of developing testicular cancer is greater.
  • A family history – a brother or father – who has been affected by testicular cancer.
  • Caucasian (white) men have a higher risk of testicular cancer than men from other ethnic groups.
  • Pre-cancerous cell may be found inside the testicles, for example when men are being treated for male infertility.
  • Men who suffer from some forms of male infertility have a slightly higher risk of developing testicular cancer.

How is testicular cancer diagnosed?

The GP will look and feel the testicle and may recommend an ultrasound scan. This is used to identify a testicular lump.  

Treatment for testicular cancer

If the scan shows that cancer might be present, the testicle will be removed by surgery. This operation is called an orchidectomy.  

If the other testicle is healthy it won’t impact the ability to have sex or to father children. Sperm can be stored before surgery if there are any fertility concerns. 

In addition to the orchidectomy, other tests such as blood tests or a CT Scan are performed to determine if the cancer has spread and to help guide treatment decisions. These are usually repeated at regular intervals after surgery and other treatments to monitor response. 

Depending on the stage of the cancer (the stage of a cancer describes the size of a tumour and how far it has spread from where it originated) a number of treatment options may be considered. These include chemotherapy, radiotherapy or further surgery.  

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs circulate around the body in the bloodstream. They work by disrupting the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be recommended to help prevent the cancer coming back after a testicle is removed. 

Radiotherapy may be offered after surgery instead of chemotherapy to prevent the cancer returning. It may also be used in advanced cases of testicular cancer. If testicular cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, radiotherapy may be required after a course of chemotherapy. Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays, usually x-rays, to kill the cancer cells. 

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