Testicular cancer

Malignant tumours in the testicle are called testicular cancer.

Overview

Malignant tumours in the testicle are called testicular cancer. They mainly affect men between the ages of 20 and 50. Risk factors include undescended testicles, first-degree relatives with testicular tumours, or a tumour in the other testicle. The most important symptom is a painless, enlarged testicle on one side, possibly in combination with a feeling of tightness. Men should examine their testicles once a month.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Painless, one-sided enlargement or lump
  • Testicles feel rougher than usual
  • Feeling of heaviness/tightness in the scrotal region

Other symptoms

  • Physical examination can cause pain
  • Possibly, twinges in the groin
  • Enlarged mammary glands and early puberty are possible (hormone-producing tumours)
  • Advanced stages: fatigue, weight loss, pain in the back and the bones

Causes and treatment

Causes

The causes aren’t known, but there are certain and suspected risk factors

  • Undescended testicles (one or both testicles don’t move down from the abdominal cavity or groin)
  • Increased risk of cancer in a testicle if testicular cancer was previously diagnosed in the other testicle
  • Hormonal factors (greatest risk during the years of highest sexual activity levels)
  • Contact with various chemical substances (e.g. carbon black and insecticides)
  • First-degree relatives with testicular cancer
  • Existing HIV disease

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Inspection and physical examination of testicles
  • Illumination with a flashlight (diaphanoscopy)
  • Blood test (tumour markers)
  • Scrotal ultrasound
  • CT scan (computed tomography), if necessary
  • Biopsy for examination under a microscope
Possible therapies
  • Operation
    • First option for all malignant testicular tumours
    • Removal of diseased testicle
    • If patient still wants children: storage of sperm, if required
  • Depending on tumour stage: also chemotherapy with/without radiation

What can I do myself?

  • Men between puberty and 50 years: examine testicles once a month for swelling and hard lumps
    • Particularly important if patient had undescended or retractile testicles
    • Procedure: Relaxed posture, warm temperature, in the shower or bath
  • Go to the doctor quickly if a tumour is suspected, as tumours grow very fast!

When to see a doctor?

  • Every change and abnormality in a testicle
  • Painful or painless and rough swelling
  • Blood in urine or sperm
  • Emergency: acute, sudden onset of testicle pain, (testicular torsion or inflammation)

Further information

Hirslanden: How to correctly examine your testicles
www.hirslanden.ch/en

Krebsliga Schweiz (Swiss Cancer League)
www.krebsliga.ch

Synonyms

testicular cancer, seminoma, non-seminoma

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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