Testicular Cancer

The Urology Unit in St. James’s Hospital provides a multidisciplinary service that focuses on the diagnosis and management of patients with prostate, kidney, bladder, testicular and penile cancer. The unit has a strong commitment to improving patient quality of care and outcomes through research involving urological cancer diagnosis and treatment.

What is Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer is a cancer that arises in the male testicles and most often appears as a lump in the testicles. Testicular cancer is diagnosed by blood tests and an ultrasound of the testicles. The only way your doctor can confirm a diagnosis of testicular cancer is by removing tissue for examination under a microscope. Testicular cancer often begins in the germ cells of the testicles, the cells used to make sperm. In some cases, testicular cancer can spread to the lymph glands at the back of the abdomen, neck or chest. There are two types of germ cell tumours:

  • Seminomas, which usually develop between the ages of 30 and 50. They usually grow slowly and respond very well to treatment.
  • Non-Seminomas, which usually develop between the age of 15 and the early 40s. They tend to grow and spread faster than Seminomas.

There are three stages of testicular cancer. The stage will be determined by:

  • The size of the tumour.
  • Whether lymph nodes are involved.
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other organs in the body.
  • Whether tumour markers are present. Some testicular tumours make chemicals that can be found in your bloodstream; these are called tumour markers.

There are other types of testicular lumps that may be non-cancerous.