Michael Jubinville, MPH
Most young men aren't concerned about major health issues like cancer. Most cancers do in fact occur later in life, but testicular cancer is most common in young men.
The good news is that testicular cancer is uncommon and highly curable. Treatment advances have led to a much lower death rate from this cancer than in the past. There is an 85%-90% five-year survival rate, and a 99% survival rate for testicular cancer that is found in the earliest stages.
As with most cancers, the key to the best outcomes are awareness and early detection.
There is no known cause for testicular cancer. It is probably a combination of genetic and environmental factors that lead to testicular cancer. Some factors that have been linked to an increased risk of this cancer include:
Testicular cancer is something that may be detected by you. Some doctors suggest doing regular testicular self-exams which may allow you to detect changes, even small ones. These changes may also be detected by a sexual partner. Here are some signs to be aware of:
More advanced testicular cancer may cause other symptoms, such as lower back pain, nausea, or vomiting.
Promptly see your doctor if you discover a lump or notice other changes in your testicles. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. Special tests may help confirm the diagnosis and check for any signs of that the cancer has spread. These tests may include:
Remember that early detection of any cancer increases your chance of successful treatment.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men ages 20-39 years with average risk have a physical exam every 3 years. These exams will include screening for certain cancers. If you have a high risk for testicular cancer, like a family history, you may need to do more. Take some time to discuss your risk with your doctor and find out how to protect yourself.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Do I Have Testicular Cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003172-pdf.pdf. Updated June 5, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Seminoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated May 31, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Testicular cancer. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated September 26, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Testicular Cancer. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/testicular. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Vadaparampil S, Moser R, et al., Factors Associated with Testicular Self-Examination Among Unaffected Young Men from Multiple-Case Testicular Cancer Families. Hered Cancer Clin Pract. 2009;7(1):11.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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