Male sex hormones and sperm are produced in the testicles. Testicular cancer, or cancer of the testes, occurs in these organs.
Testosterone controls the development of the reproductive organs and other male physical characteristics.
It is important to catch testicular cancer early to improve the chances for successful treatment.
The earliest signs that occur are a painless lump and swelling. The testicle may also seem to be larger than usual.
However, this type of cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms until a later stage. That is why self-examination is so important - it is often the only way to catch testicular cancer at an early stage.
Although scientists are not sure what the specific causes of testicular cancer are, there are some factors which may raise a man's risk of developing the disease. These risk factors include:
- Cryptorchidism (undescended testicle): If a testicle has not moved down when a male is born, there is a greater risk that he will develop testicular cancer later on.
- Congenital abnormalities: Males born with abnormalities of the penis, kidneys, or testicles.
- Inguinal hernia: Males born with a hernia in the groin.
- Having had testicular cancer: If a male has had testicular cancer, he is more likely to develop it in the other testicle, compared with a man who has never had testicular cancer.
- Family history: A male who has a close relative with testicular cancer is more likely to develop it himself compared with other men.
- Abnormal testicular development: Conditions, such as Klinefelter's syndrome, where the testicles do not develop normally, may increase a person's risk of testicular cancer.
- Mumps orchitis: This is an uncommon complication of mumps in which one or both testicles become inflamed.
Ancestry: Testicular cancer is more common among Caucasian males, compared with men of African or Asian descent. The highest rates are found in Scandinavia, Germany, and New Zealand.
Having a vasectomy does not increase a man's risk of developing testicular cancer.