Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is highly treatable when caught early. Knowing what to look for is key.

What is Testicular Cancer?

A man’s testicles produce sperm and male hormones. Testicular tumors are typically either seminoma (slow growing) or non-seminoma (grows more quickly).

When abnormal cells grow out of control in the testes, testicular cancer can develop. It is highly treatable if detected early.

This disease typically occurs between the ages of 15 and 35 but it is not common in the general population.

What are the symptoms of Testicular Cancer?

It is possible to have no symptoms and be diagnosed with testicular cancer. The most common symptoms are:

  • Pain in the testicle
  • Lump in the testicle
  • Enlarged testicle or a change in the way it feels
  • Dull ache in the back or lower abdomen

What causes Testicular Cancer?

The cause of most testicular cancers is unknown. But these factors seem to increase risk:

  • Abnormal testicle development
  • History of undescended testicle(s)
  • Family history of testicular cancer
  • Klinefelter syndrome

Despite what some people believe, there’s no link between vasectomy and testicular cancer. White men are five times more likely to develop testicular cancer than Black men, and twice as likely as Asian American men.

How is Testicular Cancer diagnosed?

What to know before your visit to Michigan Institute of Urology in Southeast Michigan: 

  • During your visit, your doctor will ask you questions regarding your medical history and will perform an exam.

Other tests that may be performed during or after your visit: 

  • Blood work for tumor markers specific to testicular cancer.
  • Scrotal ultrasound: an imaging study looking at the testicle, epididymis, hydrocele sac, and blood flow to and from the testicle.
  • Imaging: either a CT scan or MRI scan depending on your history and kidney function to allow us to evaluate the urinary tract and assess for any spread of disease.

If cancer is found, the next step is to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This is called “staging.”

  • Stage I cancer has not spread beyond the testicle.
  • Stage II cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen.
  • Stage III cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes (it could be as far as the liver or lungs).

How is Testicular Cancer treated?

Recommended treatment depends on the type of your tumor, the stage of your tumor, and the extent of your disease. With treatment, most patients can be cured.


Most testicular tumors need to be removed surgically. In certain situations, systemic therapy may be utilized.


The gold standard for testicle tumor/mass removal is a radical orchiectomy (removal of the entire testicle through a small incision in the groin). Testicular biopsies are rarely performed prior to this surgery. In very select cases, just the tumor can be removed.

If the lymph nodes within the abdomen are enlarged, surgical removal (retroperitoneal lymph node dissection) may be performed with or without receiving chemotherapy first.

Treatment following surgery may include:

  • Surveillance: For early-stage cancer, the physician closely watches to see what happens following surgery, with regular checkups to ensure the cancer is gone.
  • Chemotherapy: For more advanced cancers, chemotherapy destroys cancer cells that remain after surgery.
  • Radiation therapy: Used for specific subtypes of testicular cancer, this high dose of x-rays destroys cancer cells that remain after surgery. It also is used to treat cancer that has spread beyond the testes.
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