What is Testicular cancer?

In the UK, around just over 2,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year. It is relatively uncommon, accounting for only 1% of all male cancers; however, the rates of diagnoses are increasing, particularly in white males, where the rates are five times greater than in black men. Although it can occur at any age, it most commonly affects males aged between 20 to 40 but has one of the best recovery rates of all cancers with 95% of those diagnosed making a full recovery, particularly if it’s diagnosed early.

Although the causes of testicular cancer are not fully understood, there are several things that have been shown to increase your risk of developing the disease:

  • If a babies testes fail to descend either whilst in the womb or during the first year of life, they are three times more likely to develop testicular cancer than men who didn’t have this problem.
  • Having a close relative i.e. brother or father who has suffered from testicular cancer increases your risk of developing the disease.
  • Males between the age of 20 and 44, and who are white are at an increased risk of being diagnosed with the condition. It is also more common in northern and Western Europe compared with other parts of the world.
  • There is speculation that exposure to some pesticides and other chemicals increases the risk of developing the condition, however, more evidence is required.
  • Although it is not clear why having fertility problems and low-quality sperm increase your risk of developing testicular cancer by up to three times.
  • Long-term smokers are twice as likely to develop testicular cancer than non-smokers
  • There is evidence that taller males are at an increased risk of developing testicular cancer, compared to shorter men.
  • Other medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS or a rare complication of mumps have also been shown to increase the risk of developing testicular cancer.

Most commonly the first symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump or swelling in the testicle. Other symptoms can include aches and discomfort in your testicles, scrotum, groin or lower abdomen, or feeling tired and unwell. It is important to regularly check for any changes in your testicles and consult your GP if you notice any of these symptoms, as there is a high chance of full recovery particularly if diagnosed early.

Further reading is available at

www.cancerresearchuk.org  and www.macmillan.org.uk

Posted in: Health and Wellbeing