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Cancer of the Testicle (cont.)

Testicular Cancer Causes

It is not known exactly what causes testicular cancers. Certain factors, listed here, appear to increase a man's risk of developing a testicular cancer. Many others have been proposed, but are either unproven or discredited.

Cryptorchidism: The testicles form in the abdomen of the developing fetus. While the fetus is still in the womb, the testicles begin their gradual descent to the scrotum. Oftentimes, this descent is not complete at birth but occurs during the first year of life. Failure of the testicle to appropriately descend into the scrotum is called undescended testicle, or cryptorchidism.

  • It can occur on one or both sides.
  • If the testicles do not fully descend, the infant usually undergoes surgery to bring the testicle(s) into the scrotum.
  • The risk for testicular cancer is three to five times higher in males born with cryptorchidism, even after surgery to bring the testicle(s) into the scrotum.
  • Because of this increased risk, men with this type of condition should be even more rigorous about performing regular testicular self-exams.

Testicular Cancer Symptoms and Signs

Patient Comments

Family History of testicular cancer

HIV infection: There appears to be a higher risk of testicular cancer in men with HIV infection.

Age: Men between 20 and 35 are most commonly affected. Six percent occur in children. Seven percent occur in men over 55.

History of Testicular Cancer in the Other Testicle

Most testicular cancers are discovered by the man himself when he notices a painless swelling, lump, or pain in a testicle.

  • The lump may be small (the size of a pea) or large (the size of marble or even larger).
  • Less common symptoms include a lasting ache or sensation of heaviness in the testicle.
  • Significant shrinking of a testicle or a hardness of the testicle are other less common symptoms.
  • Occasionally, a dull ache or fullness in the abdomen, pelvis, or groin is the only symptom.
  • Rarely, the first symptom may be breast tenderness (3%), a result of hormonal changes brought on by the cancer.

Changes in the testicle can be detected early by practicing monthly testicular self-examination. Self-exam is easy to do. Testicular self-examination is key to recognizing testicular cancer early. Males older than 18 years of age should be encouraged to perform monthly inspections of each testicle. Notify your health-care provider about any suspicious finding or concern.

Last Reviewed 11/20/2017
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