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Testicular cancer -- Learn the Facts February 11, 2010

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/828-2394.

Testicular cancer – Learn the Facts

AUGUSTA, GA. (Jan. 26, 2010) – In the United States, between 7,500 and 8,000 diagnoses of testicular cancer are made each year. Statistically speaking, testicular cancer is not one of the most prevalent cancers, but knowing the signs can lower the risk even more.

“Testicular cancer is cancer that develops in the testicles, a part of the male reproductive system,” explained Beth Barranco, RN, from University Hospital. “During a man's lifetime, his risk of testicular cancer is roughly 1 in 250, or 0.4 percent.”

It is most common among males 15–40 years, particularly those in their mid-20s, she said. “Testicular cancer has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers -- in excess of 90 percent, if detected early.”

So here’s what you need to know:

Is testicular cancer more common in a particular race or age?

  • Testicular cancer is most common among Caucasian men and rare among men of African descent.

Although testicular cancer is most common among men 15–40 years, it has three peaks: 

  • infancy through the age of four 
  • 25–40 years 
  • After age 60 

Germ cell tumors of the testis are the most common cancer in young men between 15 and 35.

What are some of the risk factors for testicular cancer?

  • A major risk factor is cryptorchidism or undescended testicles. 
  • Other risk factors: 
  • inguinal hernia 
  • mumps orchitis 
  • sedentary lifestyle 
  • early onset of male characteristics (development of male hormones at an early age) 
  • family history

What are signs and symptoms to look for? 

  • a lump in one testis or a hardening of one of the testicles 
  • abnormal sensitivity (either numbness or pain) 
  • loss of sexual activity or interest/sexual withdrawal 
  • a burning sensation, especially following physical activity 
  • build-up of fluid in the scrotum and/or an increase, or significant decrease in the size of one or both testes 
  • a dull ache sometimes described as a "heavy" sensation in the lower abdomen or groin 
  • general weakness and tired feeling

If diagnosed, what kind of treatment is available, and is it curable? 

  • There are three basic types of treatment for testicular cancer: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. 
  • In most patients, testicular cancer is curable if detected early.

Is there a monthly self exam for testicular cancer?

Yes, and because testicular cancer is curable when detected early, experts recommend regular monthly testicular self exams after a hot shower or bath. Men should examine each testicle, feeling for pea-shaped lumps. The testicle should normally feel smooth. Ridges may indicate enlarged blood vessels or tumor growth. Additionally the whole testicle could feel hard and bumpy.

For more information on testicular cancer, call the Cancer Answer Line at 706.828.2522.

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