Longevity 7 MIN READ

Men’s Health Month: Seven Facts You Should Know About Testicular Cancer

As we get to the second half of November, let’s talk about men’s health problems. The most common ailments young men have are prostate and testicular cancers and mental health issues, among others.

Written by Abhay Puri

Nov 26, 2021
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As we get to the second half of November, let’s talk about men’s health problems. The most common ailments young men have are prostate and testicular cancers and mental health issues, among others. Testicular cancer is an illness that has gained significant traction over the past few years. Here’s what you should look out for to stay vigilant against it.

What is testicular cancer?

As we get to the second half of November, let’s talk about men’s health problems. The most common ailments young men have are prostate and testicular cancers and mental health issues, among others. Testicular cancer is an illness that has gained significant traction over the past few years. Here’s what you should look out for to stay vigilant against it.

What is testicular cancer?

The testicles are male sex glands located in the scrotum, the sac of skin that lies below the penis. They produce sperm and the hormone testosterone. Cancer is a disease caused by the uncontrolled division or growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cells in nearly every part of the body are susceptible to it. Moreover, cancer originating in one area can spread to others as well. Cancer that starts in the testicles is called testicular cancer. When malignant cancerous cells develop in the tissues of a testicle—or any body part for that matter—they must be treated as soon as possible.

Although testicular cancer is not very common (on average, 1 in 250 males will develop it during their lifespan), the incidence of testicular cancer has been increasing in the US and many other nations for several decades. Even though the rate of increase is believed to have slowed down recently, testicular cancer remains a cause for concern.

The testicles comprise many different types of cells, so there are different kinds of testicular cancers. Most start in germ cells, which are responsible for making sperm. The two major types of germ cell tumours are seminomas and nonseminomas. Seminomas tend to grow and spread slowly; non-seminomas generally grow and spread more rapidly and are most frequently found in men between the ages of 25 and 45. Both types are usually treatable and curable, particularly when discovered in time. Most often, within a seminoma or non-seminoma, some cancerous cells may be of these different kinds, all of which have slightly different features. Cancers that start in other organs also have the possibility of spreading or metastasizing to the testicles, but these are considered secondary testicular cancers and are medically regarded as different from testicular cancer.

What you should know about testicular cancer

Although testicular cancer can be a scary or difficult diagnosis, a few points below can help demystify this condition for you and explain certain key risk factors or behaviours that might help with avoiding or treating it.

  1. Testicular cancer is largely a disease of younger or middle-aged men

Tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is most common in males between 15 and 35 years of age, although it can still occur in old­er men. The average age of diagnosis of testicular cancer is about 33. Thus it is largely a condition that affects young or middle-aged men, although about 6% cases occur in children and teens and about 8% in men over 55. While it is the most prevalent form of can­cer amongst younger males, it only accounts for about 1% of total male cancers.

  1. Cryptorchidism poses a risk for testicular cancer

A risk factor can be anything that increases your likelihood of getting cancer. However, it’s important to remember that having one or multiple risk factors for an illness is in no way a certain indicator but rather a probability of sorts.

In the case of testicular cancer, an unde­scend­ed tes­ti­cle—a con­di­tion called cryp­torchidism—is a risk factor. Cryptorchidism is when one or both tes­ti­cles fail to move into the scro­tum before birth. Unde­scend­ed tes­ti­cles usually con­tin­ue to drop into the scro­tum dur­ing a child’s first year of life, but in some cases, this has to be carried out surgically. Cryp­torchidism is fairly rare, occurring in only about 3% of boys. Individuals with cryptorchidism are sev­er­al times more like­ly to be afflicted with tes­tic­u­lar can­cer and should stay vigilant and screen themselves regularly.

Apart from cryptorchidism, things like family history of testicular cancer, race and HIV infection might also be risk factors for testicular cancer. White men are at a higher risk of getting testicular cancer than Black and Asian men. According to the American Cancer Society, men infected with HIV face an increased risk.

  1. There is a link between testicular cancer and metabolic health

Testicular cancer is also tied to overall metabolic health. Research suggests that individuals with testicular cancer displaying symptoms of hypogonadism (a condition where they do not produce enough testosterone) are at a significantly higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Examination of endocrine and metabolic parameters is recommended in these patients.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of conditions that occur simultaneously, elevating your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. It is hypothesised that this link could be indirectly related to testicular cancer treatment or due to other hormonal factors.

  1. Male infertility can be a risk factor for testicular cancer

Men who are infertile have a higher possibility or risk of developing testicular cancer. Some of the same factors that result in infertility may also be related to the development of testicular cancer, although the exact genetic mechanisms behind this require more research. But an American study from 2009 that evaluated men who had male factor infertility (caused by several factors such as motility, abnormal sperm production, hindrance of delivery of sperm or low sperm production) found that they were nearly three times more likely to develop testicular cancer than those who did not.

  1. Not all testicular cancer exhibits symptoms

Accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Can­cer Soci­ety, some men with tes­tic­u­lar can­cer might not show any symp­toms, while oth­ers may have symp­toms such as a lump or swelling in their testicle, breast growth or soreness (triggered by a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin [HCG]), signs of puberty at an unusually early age, lower back pain, chest pain, headaches or confusion. Testicular cancer is usually discovered through ultrasound imaging or blood tests for markers such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) or HCG after any of these symptoms are observed, or during routine medical testing.

  1. Regular self-examinations can help you detect testicular cancer

Self-examination is an effec­tive way to notice any lumps, nod­ules or changes to the tes­ti­cles. A clin­i­cal tes­tic­u­lar exam should be per­formed by your pri­ma­ry care physi­cian dur­ing any annu­al health check-up. Asym­me­try in tes­ti­cles is normal and reg­u­lar self-exams will famil­iarise you with your own anato­my. Thus you’ll be bet­ter equipped to rec­og­nise changes as they occur.

  1. Testicular cancer can be treated

Testicular cancer is usually curable, particularly when caught early. Although a cancer diagnosis is always alarming, testicular cancer can be successfully treated in 95% of cases. There are three major kinds of treatment: surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Surgery that removes the affected tes­ti­cles (orchiec­to­my) cures most patients, although in some cases (non-seminomas) associated lymph nodes may also have to be removed. Even when the tumours have spread to oth­er areas of the body, can­cer can be par­tial­ly or entire­ly removed by surgery. After surgery, some patients may need to under­go chemother­a­py or radi­a­tion treat­ment to kill any remain­ing can­cer cells or prevent tumours from returning. Patients are advised to con­tin­ue thorough self-exam­i­na­tions to identify abnor­mal­i­ties after receiv­ing treatment.


It’s important to keep these facts about testicular cancer in mind and be aware of the risks that this disease poses. By regularly self-examining and remaining vigilant, it is possible to detect testicular cancer at an early stage.

Moreover, knowing that testicular cancer is usually treatable and understanding the factors that play into this diagnosis can help you know when to seek medical expertise. Young and middle-aged men—who are within the age range most susceptible to this illness or affected by risk factors such as infertility or HIV—should be particularly careful.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns and before undertaking a new health care regimen including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.


1) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12183-testicular-cancer

2) https://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicular-cancer/about/what-is-testicular-cancer.html

3) https://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicular-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

4) https://www.dulyhealthandcare.com/health-topic/7-facts-about-testicular-cancer

5) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28544654/

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