This ball-bust’n disease can strike without notice, and is the #1 Cancer for men aged 15-34

Risk factors for testicular cancer

  • Age: Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in Men between 15 to 35.
  • Family history: A man who has a close relative (particularly a brother) who has had testicular cancer has an increased risk of developing testicular cancer.
  • Personal history: Men who have had cancer in one testicle have an increased risk of developing cancer in the other testicle. That is why patients who have had testicular cancer need to be followed carefully by their doctors.
  • Cryptorchidism: This is a condition where one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum before birth as they normally should.  These men have an increased risk of developing testicular cancer. This risk may be lowered if surgery is performed to correct this before puberty.
  • Klinefelter’s Syndrome: Men with this condition have an extra X chromosome, which results in low levels of male hormones, infertility, breast enlargement, and small testicles. It also increases the risk of developing germ cell tumours (seminoma) that begin in the chest, but this is rare.
  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency virus) infection: Men with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), have a slightly higher risk of developing germ cell tumours (seminoma).

Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

This is a list of symptoms of testicular cancer. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and many of these symptoms could represent something else. Only consultation with your doctor can determine their cause. If you think you have any of these symptoms, be sure to see you doctor as soon as possible.

  • Painless lump or swelling on either testicle. It can be tiny or grow very large. The affected testicle may also become more firm than the other testicle.
  • Pain or discomfort (with or without swelling) in a testicle or scrotum. Pain can result from many different conditions, including infections (orchitis or epididymitis), injury, twisting (torsion), or cancer.
  • Change in the way a testicle feels.
  • Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
  • Dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin.
  • Sudden buildup of fluid in the scrotum.
  • Breast tenderness or growth. Although rare, some testicular tumors produce hormones that cause breast tenderness or growth of breast tissue (a condition called gynecomastia).
  • Lower back pain, shortness of breath, chest pain, and bloody sputum (phlegm) can be symptoms of advanced testicular cancer, but many other diseases can also cause these symptoms.



Stuff you should know about the numbers behind testicular cancer

  • Testicular cancer incidence continues to increase at a rate that is now statistically significant (1.5% per year between 1996 and 2005).
  • There is also a decline in testicular cancer mortality (2.4% per year between 1995 and 2004)
  • Five-year relapse-free survival rates were highest in Canada for thyroid (98%) and testicular cancer (96%). What this means is that, within the first five years after diagnosis, a man’s risk of dying from testicular cancer is about 4%.
  • For men with cancer that show no evidence of having spread beyond the testicles (Stage 1), the survival rate is about 99%.
  • For men with cancer that has spread to the back of the abdomen in the lymph nodes (Stage 2), the survival rate is about 96% but depends on the size and number of tumors.
  • For patients with more widely spread cancer (e.g. to the lungs, liver, bones etc) (Stage 3), the survival rate is about 71%. At this stage, patients are divided into three categories depending on the sites affected and tumor markers (blood work).
    • Good risk – five year survival = 94%
    • Intermediate risk – five year survival = 83%
    • Poor-risk – five year survival = 71%


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Early detection: finding testicular cancer early

  • Most cases of testicular cancer can be detected at an early stage, and men often find the cancer themselves while performing self-examinations.
  • Some doctors recommend that men ages 15 to 55 perform a monthly self-examination to identify any changes. However, some testicular cancers may not cause symptoms and may go undetected until they reach an advanced stage.
  • Men who notice a lump, hardness, enlargement, pain, or any other change in one or both of their testicles should visit their doctor immediately.


  • For patients with cancer that is confined to the testicle without spread to any other part of the body, surgery to take out the testicle (radical orchidectomy) usually cures the patient. Sometimes chemotherapy or radiation is used to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Many times, very careful follow-up and surveillance by the patient’s oncologist is performed to watch for a relapse. Then, chemotherapy or radiation is used.
  • For patients with disease that has spread outside of the testicle, a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery is used to potentially cure the patient.  These treatments are carefully tailored to the patient’s by their oncologist.


  • Patients who have been cured of their testicular cancer need to be followed by their oncologist very carefully. This may involve patient visits and physical examinations with bloodwork, chest x-rays and CT scans on a frequent basis.
  • It is important to catch a relapse early, so that it can be treated with a higher chance of cure.  Patients that forget to see their doctor or miss their appointments risk detecting the recurrence at a much later stage which may lower their chance of cure.


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