What is testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer starts as an abnormal growth or tumour in a testis. A cancer will usually appear as a painless lump in a testis. If a man sees a doctor as soon as a lump, swelling or pain in a testis is noticed, the cancer can remain localised (remain within the testis). However, if not treated, the cancer typically spreads to other parts of the body via the blood or lymphatic system. Testicular cancer has a very good cure rate (over 95 per cent).

How common is testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is not very common, being diagnosed in about 700 Australian men each year; however, in men aged 18-39 years it is the second most common form of cancer.

What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?

Young men (about 20 to 40 years of age) are most at risk of developing testicular cancer.

Due to the higher risk of testicular cancer in men with a history of undescended testes, it is important for families to share details of medical history with boys in early adolescence so they are aware of the need to regularly check their testes.

Can I do anything to prevent testicular cancer?

As the causes of testicular cancer are largely unknown, there are no known ways to prevent it.

There is no evidence that injury or sporting strains, life-style (for example smoking or diet), or sexual activity are linked with testicular cancer. However, an injury to the groin area may sometimes prompt men to check or notice a problem with the testes that needs further investigation by a doctor.

What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?

A hard lump in either testis is the usual symptom of testicular cancer. The lump is usually painless but in about one in 10 men it is painful or tender. In a few men, constant backache, coughing or breathlessness, and enlarged or tender nipples may mean that the cancer has spread. A man with any of these symptoms should see a doctor straight away; however, there may be many other reasons for these symptoms.

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