Testicular Cancer Awareness Month: Let’s Talk Risk Factors, Treatment, and Support

April 26, 2021
Two young men laugh while sitting outdoors on a restaurant patio

 

Did you know that April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month? An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 men will develop testis cancer each year, and the chance of a man developing the disease is about 1 in 270, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

There are 2 main types of testicular cancer: seminomas and nonseminomas.

Seminomas are found in the germ cells of the testes. Seminomas are a very treatable cancer. This cancer can be 1 of 3 kinds: classic, anaplastic, or spermatocytic.

Nonseminomas consist of more than 1 type of cell. There are several kinds of nonseminomas: choriocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, and yolk sac tumors. Nonseminomas tend to grow more quickly, but they are also very treatable.

“The average age at the time of diagnosis of testicular cancer is about 33. This is largely a disease of young and middle-aged men, but about 6% of cases occur in children and teens, and about 8% occur in men over the age of 55. ”

—American Cancer Society

Risk Factors & Signs of Testicular Cancer

Risk factors for testicular cancer include:

  • Birth defects – congenital abnormalities in the testicles, penis, or kidneys   
  • Family history of testicular cancer – men whose brother or father has had the disease
  • Previous testicular cancer – men who have had this cancer in the other testicle
  • Undescended testicle (cryptorchidism) – men with a testicle that does not move down into the scrotum at birth (even after surgery to place the testicle in the scrotum)

Signs and symptoms include:

  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen, back, or groin
  • If a testicle gets larger or feels different
  • A heavy feeling in the scrotum
  • Pain or aches in a testicle or the scrotum
  • A lump or swelling in a testicle, with no pain
  • Fluid in the scrotum

If a man experiences pain, heaviness, aches, growth, or other changes in the testicles or scrotum, he should see a doctor. The doctor may order a blood test, ultrasound, or biopsy to evaluate his health. If testicular cancer is found, the doctor will order more scans to determine if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

“In the United States, testis cancer is most common in white (Caucasian) men and less common in black (African-American), Hispanic and Latino and Asian-American men.”

—Johns Hopkins Medicine

Treatment of Testicular Cancer

Treatment depends on multiple factors such as stage, age, and overall health. It helps to learn as much as possible before picking a treatment. Most men have time to get a second opinion and talk through the different treatment options.

Seminomas and nonseminomas are treated differently. If the tumor contains both a seminoma and nonseminoma, it is treated as a nonseminoma. The 3 standard treatments for both cancer types are surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Review the side effects of testicular cancer treatment

 

Testicular Cancer Resources and Support

If you are living with testicular cancer or are a caregiver to someone with testicular cancer, the Cancer Support Community offers a variety of resources to help ease the burden of your journey.

The Cancer Support Community believes that community is stronger than cancer. We are a relentless ally for anyone who strives to manage the realities of this disruptive disease, so that no one faces cancer alone. Be sure to check our blog section often as we share more news, stories, and inspiration to help support you on your journey.