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Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is the name give to tumor cells, capable of invading nearby healthy tissues and of reaching other organs and lodging in them, are found in the testicle.

Testicular is a malignant tumor that originates in the different cells of the testicular tissue. It generally appears in young men and has a good prognosis. Even in more advanced stages, it can be curable with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

It is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 35. It can occur in older men, and in rare cases, in younger boys. In Spain, the annual incidence is around 1.6 and 2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It represents around only a 0.5 - 1% of the tumors in the men.

The majority (90%) of testicular cancer cases grow from germ cells (the cells that make sperm). Within this group, there are two main types of testicular cancer, seminomas and nonseminomas.

  • Seminoma: This is a slow-growing form of testicular cancer in immature germ cells and is usually found in older men. It represents about 50% of the cases. Seminomas are very sensitive to radiation therapy and patients with seminomas have an excellent prognosis; the cure rate globally is some 90% and in its more initial stages, close to 100%.
  • Nonseminoma: This more common type of testicular cancer tends to grow more quickly than seminomas and is a tumor in more mature germ cells.


The large majority of testicular cancer cases are detected by the patient:

  • Discomfort or pain in the testicle, or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • Accumulation of liquid in the scrotum
  • Pain in the back or lower abdomen
  • Enlarged testicle or a change in the way it feels
  • Lump or swelling in either testicle

It is important to note that these symptoms can appear associated with benign illnesses.


Although the exact causes are unknown, some factors that increase the probabilities of developing testicular cancer are known and include:

  • Abnormal testicle development
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • Family history of testicular cancer
  • HIV infection
  • Personal history of testicular cancer
  • History of an undescended testicle (cryptorchidism: one or both testicles fail to move into the scrotum before birth)
  • Some illnesses such as Klinefelter syndrome (a chromosomal condition)

As prevention of all illnesses, one should maintain a healthy, active lifestyle: quit smoking and following a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Gene or region studied

  • 5q31.3
  • 2q35
  • BAK1
  • TERT
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