According to the American Cancer Society’s estimates, doctors will diagnose about 9,500 cases of testicular cancer in 2019. While these numbers are low compared to the prevalence of other types of cancer, this is one of the most common cancers in young men. We’re answering three frequently asked questions about testicular cancer so you can be proactive about maintaining your health.
What Is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is the result of unmediated growth of cells in the testes. Most testicular cancers begin in the germ cells, which produce sperm. “There are two common types of germ cell tumors: seminomas and non-seminomas. Seminomas typically grow slowly, while non-seminomas grow at a much quicker rate,” explains Kathy Ravanbakhsh, DO, FACOS, urologist at St. Joseph Health Urology Associates in Bryan.
Who Is Most at Risk?
While many cancers typically impact older adults, testicular cancer is most common in people ages 20 through 34. Non-seminomas can skew even younger, affecting boys in their late teens. There are a variety of risk factors that can indicate a higher chance of developing testicular cancer. Make a note if any of the following apply to you: a personal or familial history of testicular cancer, an undescended testicle, or an HIV infection.
How Can I Detect Testicular Cancer Early?
Early detection is important, as it typically allows you to receive treatment before the cancer can spread. Your primary care physician should examine your testicles during your annual check-up. Monthly self-exams can also be beneficial, as they allow you to know what's normal for you so you can notice any changes quickly.
To perform a self-exam, take one testis in your hand and roll it gently between your fingers. Feel for hard, round lumps and other changes to the overall feel of it. Once completed, move to the second testis and repeat. If you notice any changes, report them to your doctor immediately.
If you have any concerns regarding your health, our team is here to help! Schedule an appointment with your St. Joseph Health primary care physician to learn more about testicular cancer and your personal risk. If necessary, they can refer you to a St. Joseph Health oncologist at our Cancer Center for further testing or treatment.
American Cancer Society | Testicular Cancer