Testicular Cancer

What is testicular cancer?

  • Testicular cancer is cancer that starts in the testicles. The testicles are two male reproductive organs that hang below the penis in a sac called the scrotum.

Illustration of the anatomy of the male reproductive tract

In adult males, each testicle is usually slightly smaller than a golf ball. The testicles make several hormones, mainly testosterone. They also make reproductive cells called sperm. There are different kinds of cells in each testicle, each of which can grow into one or more types of cancer.

About 8,590 men in the United States will be diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2012. Overall, testicular cancer is not that common. However, it is the leading cause of cancer in men in their twenties and thirties. Some doctors recommend performing testicular self-exams to help find testicular cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable, although it's not clear if testicular self-exams lower the death rate for this cancer.

Who gets testicular cancer?
  • This disease most commonly occurs in men between the ages of 20 and 35, although it can happen at any age.
White men are more likely to get testicular cancer than black men. Men in Europe and the United States have the highest risk of getting testicular cancer. African and Asian men have the lowest risk. Researchers do not know what accounts for these differences.
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