What is testicular cancer?

There are two main types of testicular cancer: non-seminoma and seminoma.

Non-seminomas are more common in men aged 15 to 35. Seminomas are more likely to affect men aged 25 to 55. 

It is important to remember that treatment for testicular cancer is usually successful.

To help you understand what testicular cancer is, you might find it useful to read our information about the testicles and the organs around them.

This information is about the main types of testicular cancer. If you have a different type of testicular cancer and want to know more, you can call us on 0808 808 00 00.

Symptoms of testicular cancer

The main symptoms are:

  • a painless lump or a swelling in a testicle – sometimes the swelling can suddenly get bigger and become painful 
  • pain or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum (the sac that holds the testicles)
  • a change in the shape or feeling of the testicle.

There might also be other symptoms if the cancer has spread, such as:

  • pain in your back, groin or lower abdomen (tummy)
  • shortness of breath
  • tender or swollen nipples – this is not common, but can be caused by hormones produced by the cancer.

Most lumps and swellings, especially in the epididymis (the tube behind the testicle), are not cancer. But it is important to get any lump, swelling or other symptoms checked by your GP straight away. Doctors are used to talking about private parts of the body, so try not to feel embarrassed.

We have more information about checking your testicles. This information is written for all age groups.

You may find it difficult to tell the people close to you (like your family, friends or a partner) about a problem with your testicles. But try to talk to them as they will want to help and support you as much as they can. When you are going to see your GP, you might want to take someone with you.

If you do not want to see your GP, you can go to your local sexual health clinic. You don’t have to give your name at these clinics. You can find the number online or in your local phone book. The important thing is to get any symptoms checked by a doctor straight away.

Remember, testicular cancer can nearly always be cured, and it is easier to treat when it is found early.

Causes of testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is rare. We don’t know exactly what causes testicular cancer, but research is looking into this.

But we do know that some things can increase the chances of testicular cancer. These are called risk factors. You might have a higher risk of testicular cancer if:

  • one or both of your testicles did not come down into the scrotum when you were a baby and you needed an operation
  • your dad or a brother has had testicular cancer.

An injury or sporting strain to the testicles does not cause testicular cancer. But if you get an injury and have any swelling or a lump, get it checked by your doctor.

Remember, nothing you have done has caused the cancer.

If you are worried about testicular cancer

If you think you might have any symptoms of testicular cancer, you should go straight to your GP. They will be able to talk to you about your symptoms. If they think your symptoms could be because of cancer, they can do tests to find out more.

Back to Testicular cancer

The testicles

Understanding more about what the testicles do might make it easier for you to talk about them.

Having tests

You may have tests to help your doctors see whether you have testicular cancer.

Treatment

The main treatments for testicular cancer are surgery and chemotherapy.

Life after treatment

Being diagnosed with testicular cancer can have a big impact on your life, even after you have finished treatment.