Testicular cancer is cancer that develops in the testicles (testes), a part of the male reproductive system. A cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, which can invade into adjacent tissues, or spread through blood and/or lymphatic vessels to other parts of the body.
Over his lifetime, a man's risk of testicular cancer is roughly 1 in 200 (0.4%). Testicular cancer most often occurs in men aged 20–39 years, but can occasionally it can occur in younger or older age groups.
Testicular cancer has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers with an average five-year survival rate of 95%. If the cancer has not spread outside the testicle, the 5-year survival is 99%. Even for the relatively few cases in which cancer has spread widely, chemotherapy offers a cure rate of at least 80%.
What are the symptoms?
Testicular cancer usually presents as a hard, painless lump inside the testis. If you are concerned about a lump in your testis, see your local doctor (GP) straight away.
How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
To determine whether a lump in the testis is cancer your doctor will take a detailed medical history, do a physical examination. He or she may also order an ultrasound scan of the testes, and may request blood tests for tumour markers, and other scans.
Many lumps are found to be fluid- filled cysts within the scrotum and are not cancer. The chest and abdomen will also be checked in case the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
How is testicular cancer treated?
Fortunately, testicular cancer, even when advanced, has a high cure rate. Treatment is usually carried out by a multidisciplinary team involving a Urologist, Medical Oncologist, Radiotherapist and support staff.
In most cases the first step is surgical removal of the testis and cord (orchidectomy), which is performed through and incision in the groin.
If the cancer is found to be localised to the testis after surgery no additional treatment may be necessary, but it is important for the man to be monitored carefully by a specialist with regular blood tests and scans because a proportion can develop recurrences elsewhere in the body at a later date. Even if the cancer recurs there is a good chance of cure.
Cancers, which have spread outside the testes, are usually treated by chemotherapy or radiation. Sometimes if there is a residual mass after chemotherapy this may need to be surgically excised.
An individual's prognosis depends on the type and stage of cancer as well as their age and general health at the time of diagnosis. All testicular cancers can be treated. The five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with testicular cancer is close to 95%.