Testicular Cancer: A Young Man’s Disease

Testicular cancer is the number one cancer that affects young men. This ‘Movember’ whilst growing moustaches to raise awareness for men’s health issues, we encourage young men to learn and talk about testicular cancer. It is one of the three biggest health risks affecting men.

So, this November, encourage the men in your life to be aware of testicular cancer statistics, symptoms, and treatments. Finding testicular cancer early can also help preserve your fertility. Read on to find out more.

Prevalence and survival rates

Around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year in the UK1. With about 1 in 250 males who will develop testicular cancer at some point during their lifetime2, testicular cancer is rare. But, it’s the most common cancer in young men.

When exploring age statistics, incidence rates for testicular cancer in the UK are highest in males aged 30 to 34. The average age of males when first diagnosed with testicular cancer is about 332.

The fact testicular cancer tends to be a young man’s disease makes it unusual compared with other cancers. It affects men in the prime of their lives so fertility and sex life need to be taken into consideration when planning treatment.

The good news is that testicular cancer is one of the most treatable cancers with one of the best outlooks. In England, more than 9 in 10 (97%) men diagnosed with testicular cancer aged 15-54 survive their disease for ten years or more3. Looking at the mortality rate, there are around 65 testicular cancer deaths in the UK every year3.

Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer

The warning signs of testicular cancer are:

·       a painless lump or swelling in a testicle

·       a change in shape, size (bigger), feel of your testicle

·       pain or discomfort in your scrotum or testicle

·       lower back ache

·       a feeling of heaviness or fullness in the scrotum

Check your testicles

You should check your testicles regularly. Checking them every month is good practice. If you notice any changes or signs and symptoms listed above, you should see your GP as soon as possible. Testicular cancer grows rapidly, and tumours can double in size in size in just 10 - 30 days4.

Your GP will examine you and refer you for diagnostic tests or to a specialist if they think you may have testicular cancer.

What treatments are available for testicular cancer

The main treatments for testicular cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.

The first treatment for all men with testicular cancer is surgery. This removes the affected testicle and is called an orchidectomy.

Your recommended treatment plan will depend on:

·       the type of testicular cancer you have – the majority are germ cell tumours. Seminoma (slow-growing) and non-seminoma (fast-growing) are the main types of testicular germ cell tumours.

·       the stage of your testicular cancer - the size of the tumour and how far it has spread from where it originated.

After surgery, you might have:

·       Chemotherapy – where anti-cancer drugs are circulated throughout the body in your bloodstream to destroy cancer cells. Chemo tends to be used if you have a higher risk of the cancer coming back or your cancer has already spread.

·       Radiotherapy - uses high energy waves to kill cancer cells. You may have radiotherapy if you have seminoma testicular cancer that has spread to your lymph glands at the back of your abdomen.

Fertility after testicular cancer treatment

As a young male, it’s likely you’ll be concerned about whether you can have children after testicular cancer treatment. The answer will depend on the treatment you need. Some treatments might affect your fertility. In this case, your doctor will talk to you about this before you start treatment.

Most men whose fertility may be affected by testicular cancer treatment will be offered sperm banking. This involves freezing a sample of your sperm so it can be used in fertility treatment at a later date.

After surgery

Testicular cancer usually only affects one testicle, so only one is removed. Having one testicle left usually means that your sex life and ability to father children will not be affected. If both testicles are removed (rare), you'll be infertile.

After other treatments

If you have your lymph nodes removed the nerves that control the release of sperm could be damaged which may affect your sex life and fertility.

Testicular chemotherapy causes temporary infertility in most men. Fertility may not return in some men. This is often after high doses.

During radiotherapy, there is a small chance of damage to your remaining testicle. However, sperm are continuously made. This means radiotherapy effects should be short-term, usually only lasting for a few months after treatment ends.

Ramsay’s care for young men facing a testicular cancer diagnosis

At Ramsay, we understand that young men diagnosed with testicular cancer can feel that it is surreal. If that is you, you are not alone.

At Ramsay, your urologist and care team are there for you throughout this journey. They provide the treatment you need when you need it. What’s more, they will explain everything fully so that you can make the right decisions for you, every step of the way.


1 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/testicular-cancer/

2 https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/testicular-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

3 https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/testicular-cancer#heading-Two

4 https://www.testicularcancerawarenessfoundation.org/what-is-testicular-cancer

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