What is testicular cancer?
Cancer that develops in the testicles (also called the testes) is known as testicular cancer. It can form in one or both of these male sex glands, which produce sperm and testosterone.
The scrotum, a pouch-like structure hanging below the base of the penis, holds the glands called the testicles, or testes. They are a central part of the male reproductive system. Each testis (singular) manufactures and stores sperm within a network of tubes called efferent ductules. Because the testicles also manufacture the male sex hormone, testosterone, the testes are also considered part of the endocrine system.
Reproductive bodies called germ cells develop into sperm through a process of cellular division called meiosis. Under normal circumstances, cell division is regulated. However, for unknown reasons, sometimes the germ cells begin to divide uncontrollably and, instead of producing functional sperm, the germ cells create copies of themselves. When this happens, the cells are considered cancerous. This kind of out-of-control division may happen to any type of cell in the testicle. However, nearly 95 percent of all testicular cancers develop in germ cells.
Testicular cancer incidence
Testicular cancer is a very rare disease that most commonly occurs in younger men ages 20 to 34. However, it may affect men at any age. According to the National Cancer Institute, testicular cancer accounts for about 0.5 percent of all new cancer cases in men. Testicular cancer is very treatable, especially if it is detected in its early stages.
The American Cancer Society estimates 9,310 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2018.