The Facts of Testicular Cancer

One of the most famous cases in recent history of a man with testicular cancer is when professional road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with the disease in 1996.  Less than a month before his 25th birthday, he was given the diagnosis and the very next day had his testicle removed.  To make matters worse, twelve tumors, some as big as golf balls, were found in his lungs, more in his abdomen and it had even spread to his brain where two more lesions were found.  His outlook was not good but by the grace of a miracle, he fought back courageously winning the battle by overcoming the cancer and is still doing well today.

The testicles or testes are located inside the scrotum and are the most essential organ of the male reproductive system.  They are the glands where sperm and testosterone are produced.  Testicular cancer develops if abnormal cells begin to grow in the testes uncontrollably.

Testicular cancer is not very common and few people know of someone who has had it.  In fact, only about 8,000 men are diagnosed with it each year in the U.S. and out of that number, 400 men will die from it every year.  This figures out to be about one in every 100 men developing cancer within the testes.

It is considered to be a cancer of young men as they are at the greatest risk of developing testicular cancer.  Most cases occur in men ages 15-39 and it is the most common cancer among men ages 20-34.  Only nine percent of men with testicular cancer are older than 50.

Other men who are at a greater risk of developing testicular cancer include:

  • White men who are 5-10 times more likely to get it than African-American men.
  • Asian-American, Latino, and Native American men also have higher rates than African-American men.
  • Cryptorchidism – a condition of having a testicle that did not descend into the scrotum
  • Family history of testicular cancer
  • HIV
  • Klinfelter’s syndrome – a genetic condition causing underdeveloped testicles
  • A previous diagnosis of testicular cancer

The most common symptom of this cancer is a usually a painless lump or swelling in a testicle with some being as small as a pea.  A swelling will feel more like an irregular thickening on a testicle.  Additional symptoms might include:

  • An ache or pain in the back, groin, lower abdomen, or scrotum
  • A change in the usual size or feel of the testicle
  • A sensation of heaviness in the scrotum or bloating in the lower abdomen

Anytime a man notices any sort of change within the testicles, he needs to contact his primary care physician right away.  The sooner this cancer is caught, the better the chance of survival and a full recovery.

Diagnosis of testicular cancer consists of a physician examining the testicles with their hands along with blood tests measuring certain proteins and enzymes released by cancerous tumors and ultrasound scans using sound waves to produce an image of internal tissues to help locate and determine the size of the tumor.

If the tumor is cancerous either chemotherapy and/or radiation are often used following surgery.  If caught early, the chance of survival is very good.   A man should discuss with his physician if there will be any ramifications from treatment that will affect a man’s fertility.

The only way to be sure if a tumor is cancerous is by surgery with usually the entire testicle removed and tested.  The remaining testicle – nearly 99 percent of men have cancer in only one testicle – has the ability to produce enough hormones to maintain a man’s masculinity, beard, sex drive, voice, etc.

All men should do a testicular self-exam on a regular basis to become familiar with what feels and looks normal.


Patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer can contact world renowned prostate cancer surgeon and urologic oncologist, Dr. David Samadi, for a free phone consultation and to learn more about prostate cancer risk, by calling 212-365-5000 or visiting

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David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor

View posts by David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team. Learn more at Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
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