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Last Edited: 1/22/2008

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer accounts for only 1% of all cancers in men but, other than melanoma (malignant skin cancer), it is the cancer that most often strikes young men.  About 7,500 men in the US are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year.  Annually in California, between 1988 and 1998, about 4 men in every 100,000 have been diagnosed with testicular cancer.  It occurs most often in men between the ages of 15 and 39, and is the most common form of cancer in men between the ages of 20 and 34.  It is more common in white men than in black men.  The testicular cancer rate has more than doubled among white men in the past 40 years, but has not changed for black men.  The reasons for these differences are not known.


Testicular cancer is a disease in which a malignant tumor forms in one or both of a manís testicles.  Testicular cancers can be broadly classified into two general types: seminoma and nonseminoma.  The National Cancer Institute website provides questions and answers about testicular cancer including information about detection, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Testicular cancer incidence rates in California have been fairly stable since 1988, rising only slightly in recent years.  Deaths from testicular cancer during that time have been few, averaging less than one per year.  Most men with testicular cancer can be cured with surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.  When testicular cancer is found early, the treatment can often be less aggressive and may cause fewer side effects.  Treatment is also more successful when testicular cancer is found early.

The causes of testicular cancer are not known.  However, studies show that several factors increase a man's chance of developing this disease.  These include undescended testicle(s), abnormal testicular development, Klienfleterís syndrome and a personal or family history of testicular cancer.  Because testicular cancer is usually diagnosed early in a manís life, there has also been increasing speculation that pre- and perinatal factors may play a role in this cancer's development.  For example, a motherís exposure to external estrogens during pregnancy may cause alterations in her fetal sonís sexual development and this, in turn, may increase his risk of developing testicular cancer later in life.

The Environmental Health Investigations Branch (EHIB) has headed research to evaluate maternal, paternal and perinatal risk factors thought to play a role in the cause of testicular cancer.





Related Projects

  • Testicular Cancer: Etiologic Factors  -- Although testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young males in the United States, and its incidence is increasing worldwide, not much is known about the etiology of this illness....



  • Paul English