Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer arising from the male organs that produce sex hormones and sperm known as the testicles. While rare overall, it is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 18 and 35, a population in which other forms of cancer are uncommon.
In general, testicular cancer has a high cure rate, even in cases where it has spread outside of the testicle. Common areas of spread include lymph nodes and other organs. Removal of the affected testicle is necessary in most cases but the opposite (contralateral) testicle may be left intact to carry out sperm and hormone production.
In general, men from ages 16-35 should perform monthly self-examinations to check for one of the most common symptoms of testicular cancer, a lump in the testicle.
Most testicular cancers occur in patients without any known risk factors so all men should do screening self-exams until age 35. The most common known risk factor associated with an increased risk for testicular cancer is being born with an undescended testicle on one or both sides. This risk persists even after surgical correction. Other conditions linked to testis cancer are rare and typically associated with abnormal testicular development.
Evaluation typically includes the physician performing a physical examination to verify any lumps on the testicles, evaluate associated structures, and assess for any findings suggestive of spread. Ultrasound imaging is the standard way to image the testicles and evaluate any masses. Laboratory testing for tumor “markers” is done prior to and following any surgical intervention. Additional testing such as CT scans may be used to stage the cancer after the testicle is removed and the diagnosis is confirmed.