5 things you may not know about testicular cancer

Sarah Mahoney

There’s one type of cancer people really aren’t talking about: testicular cancer.

There are several aspects of the disease that often escape the public eye, and it’s no surprise—people can get uncomfortable talking about their balls. But it’s important to talk about testicular health and be aware of the signs and symptoms of disease. From risk factors to early detection practices, here are five things you may not know about testicular cancer:

1. Testicular cancer is most often seen in young people.

Tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is a fairly uncommon cancer, but it is the most com­mon can­cer found in men between the ages of 20-34. According to the American Cancer Society, roughly 1 out of every 250 people with testicles will develop testicular cancer at some point during their lifetime.

Common symptoms of testicular cancer that people with testicles should be aware of are:

  • A painless lump, enlargement or swelling in either testicle
  • A change in how the testicle feels
  • Dull aching in the lower abdomen, back or groin
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
  • Sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum

2. The survival rate for testicular cancer is very high.

Testicular cancer is usually curable when found early and treated appropriately. Early detection of testicular cancer can mean less extensive treatment, more treatment options and better chances of survival.

Testicular cancer treatment will depend on the stage and type of cancer and the size of the tumor. It also depends on whether the cancer has spread beyond the testicle. Even at later stages, treatment is usually successful and can include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, alone or in combination.

The 5-year survival rate for all stages of testicular cancer is 95%.

3. You can check for testicular cancer with a testicular exam.

While there is currently no routine screening for testicular cancer, testicular checks are the best way to detect testicular cancer early. Ask your health care provider to examine your testicles as part of your routine physical exam and talk with them about testicular self-exam. Self-examinations are one way to get to know what is normal for you and should be performed on a regular basis if you have testicles. If you notice a change, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.

4. One of the top risk fac­tors for tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is an unde­scend­ed testicle.

An undescended testicle is when one or both testicles fail to move from the abdomen into the scrotum before birth. This occurs in about 3% of boys and is one of the main risk factors for testicular cancer. Many times, the undescended testicle moves down into the scrotum by the time the child reaches 6-12 months of age.

If you have a child who was born with an undescended testicle, talk with your health care provider about when to surgically correct it.

5. In the U.S., white people are more likely than other races to develop testicular cancer.

While statistics show those with testicles who are white in the U.S. have an increased risk, it is important to know that anyone with testicles can develop testicular cancer. The incidence of testicular cancer among Hispanic or Latino men is on the rise, underscoring the importance of prevention and early detection across all populations.1

Other risk factors for testicular cancer include:

  • Having abnormal development of the penis or urethra.
  • Having a personal or family history of testicular cancer.
  • Being found to have germ cell neoplasia in-situ (i.e. abnormal cells in your testicle).
  • Being infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

READ ALSO | How I helped discover my partner’s testicular cancer 

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. Don’t forget to check your balls and ask your health care provider for a testicular examination. For more information on testicular cancer, visit preventcancer.org/testicular.

1Testicular cancer statistics. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2024, March 29). https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/testicular-cancer/testicular-cancer-statistics