The testicles are two glands that hang in a sac (called the scrotum) beneath a man’s penis. Their purpose is to create sperm and male hormones.
Sometimes, a cell in one of the testicles may become altered — causing it to multiply and grow uncontrollably. This is called testicular cancer. If the cancer is not treated, it can damage surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body.
Testicular Cancer Risk Factors
The causes of testicular cancer are not yet fully understood, but you may be at a higher risk for the disease if you:
- Are between the ages of 15 and 35
- Are Caucasian
- Have a history of an undescended testicle
- Have a family history of testicular cancer
- Have HIV
Testicular Cancer Symptoms
One of the most common signs of testicular cancer is a lump in one of the testicles. You might also experience a change in the feel or texture of your testicle, fluid buildup in the scrotum, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum or pain in your testicles, scrotum, lower belly or groin.
Some men also report breast growth and a decreased interest in sex, while younger males might develop facial and body hair at an abnormally early age.
The symptoms are different for everyone, so be sure to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or something you believe may indicate testicular cancer.
Testicular Cancer Treatment
For most cases of testicular cancer, the initial course of treatment is to surgically remove the testicle. Sometimes, surgery will be followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Depending on whether or not you plan to have children, you may want to ask your doctor about sperm banking before beginning any treatments. While infertility issues usually don’t arise after the removal of one testicle, radiation therapy and chemotherapy do have the potential to negatively impact your ability to father a child.