Testicles, also called testes, are located below the penis, in a pouch called the scrotum. Testicular cancer can affect one or both testicles.

Though testicular cancer represents just 1-2 per cent of all male cancers, it is one of the most common cancers in men aged 20 - 40 years.

“The good news is that testicular cancer is a highly treatable male cancer,” says Dr Terence Tan Wee Kiat, Senior Consultant, Division of Radiation Oncology, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), a member of the SingHealth group.

Types of testicular cancer

Testicular cancer usually begins in the cells that produce sperm, called germ cells. There are two main types of germ cell tumours – seminoma and non-seminoma. Seminoma testicular cancer is a slow growing cancer which tends to affect men aged between 25 to 45 and also older men aged 55 to 60.

Non-seminoma testicular cancer is more aggressive and is more likely to occur in younger men aged 15 to 35. It can spread to the bones and other organs such as the lungs, liver and brain.

Testicular cancer in which both seminoma and non-seminoma cells are present, is treated as non-seminoma.

Testicular cancer symptoms

Testicular cancer symptoms do not always involve the testes. They may include the following:

  • A swelling or lump in one or both testicles. Often, there is no pain.
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
  • A dull ache or feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen or groin.

“Testicular cancer typically presents with a painless lump in one or both testicles. There may also be a heavy sensation in the testicle,” says Dr Tan.

In advanced cancer cases, where the testicular cancer has spread beyond the testicles, patients may also suffer from more general symptoms such as:

  • Lower back pain
  • Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fever

Read on to learn about testicular cancer causes and diagnosis.

Ref: R14