Men have a one in 300 chance of developing testicular cancer,
according to the American Cancer Society.
While testicular cancer is uncommon, the ACS reports that it
most frequently affects men aged 15 to 40, but it can occur in
males of any age, including infants and elderly men.
Doug Bank, president of the Testicular Cancer Resource Center,
said the exact risk factors for this cancer have not been
“Since we do not know what causes this cancer, we do not know of
anything that can decrease their risk of getting the cancer,” Bank
Studies have suggested that males slightly increase their risk
of developing testicular cancer if they have a family history of
the cancer, if one of their testicles did not descended at birth or
if they are of a particular race.
According to the ACS, the risk for Caucasian Americans is five
to 10 times higher than that of African Americans and more than
twice the risk for Asian Americans.
Since the risk factors for testicular cancer are not always
present in men who develop the cancer, experts suggest that men
perform monthly self-exams.
“The intent of the exam is that they know what their anatomy
feels like when nothing is wrong,” Bank said. “That way if they
ever feel something out of the ordinary, they will know that it is
unusual and can seek medical attention.”
Dr. Jane Higgins, a staff physician at Hartshorn Health Service,
“It is usually a painless lump, sometimes there is pain, but not
normally, so it can be hard to feel,” Higgins said. “We encourage
men to do their monthly exams.”
Following the diagnosis of testicular cancer, doctors perform an
orchiectomy, removing the testicle through an incision along the
Depending on the tumor’s severity, “treatments can include
surveillance, surgery to remove lymph nodes, radiation and
chemotherapy,” Bank said.
Christina Meyers, a professor in M.D. Anderson’s Department of
Neuro-Oncology, said treatments can endanger fertility.
“Men frequently bank their sperm just to be on the safe side for
what the treatments might do to the sperm cells,” Meyers said.
“Even if they don’t plan on having a family, they are encouraged to
bank their sperm in case they change their mind.”
Regardless of the possible problems caused by treatment, the ACS
reports that men only have a one in 5,000 chance of dying from
“Even if you have difficulty, it is better than being dead,”
Meyers said. “You just have to balance it.”