If your doctor suspects you or someone you care about may have testicular cancer, it’s only natural to have concerns and questions. Our urology specialists and doctors explain testicular cancer and the leading diagnostic and treatment options available at Northern Beaches Hospital.

What is testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that affects the testicles – the male sex organs responsible for making sperm and a hormone called testosterone. It usually only affects one testicle but occasionally affects both.

While testicular cancer is relatively rare, it is the second most common type of cancer in young men aged 20 to 39.

There are two main types of testicular cancer:

  • Seminomas – which tend to develop more slowly and affect men aged from 25 to 45 years.
  • Non-seminomas – these are more common in younger men and tend to develop more quickly than seminomas.

Some people have a mix of both types or one of several other less common types of testicular cancer.​​​​

Testicular cancer causes

Exactly what causes testicular cancer is not fully understood. However, there are some testicular cancer risk factors that can increase your chance of developing the condition. These include:

  • a history of cancer in the other testicle
  • having an undescended testicle or an abnormality of the penis known as hypospadias
  • family history (a father or brother who has had testicular cancer)
  • a history of fertility problems
  • having HIV or AIDS.

Testicular cancer is not linked with injury to the testicles, tight clothing or hot baths.

It's important to note that people who have no risk factors can still develop testicular cancer. Also, having testicular cancer risk factors does not necessarily mean you will develop this condition. Talk to your GP if you have any concerns about your risk.​​​​

Testicular cancer symptoms

Testicular cancer sometimes does not cause any symptoms. However, a painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles is the most common symptom of testicular cancer.

Other symptoms and signs of testicular cancer can include:

  • a change in the shape or size of a testicle
  • feeling like your testicles are uneven
  • a heavy feeling in the scrotum
  • aches or pains in your testicles, scrotum, lower back or stomach
  • enlarged or tender nipples.

If you are experiencing any of these, schedule an appointment with your GP.

Testicular cancer diagnosis and testing

If your GP thinks you may have testicular cancer, they will ask you about your symptoms and check if you have any swelling or lumps in your testicles.

They might refer you for other tests, including:

  • an ultrasound scan – to look for any suspicious lumps.
  • blood tests – to check your general health and look for substances that suggest you may have a tumour (known as tumour markers).
  • surgery – the only way doctors can be certain you have testicular cancer is to remove the affected testicle surgically and check it for cancer cells in the lab.
  • other tests – in some cases, other imaging tests (such as a CT scan or MRI) can help your healthcare team make the right diagnosis and decide on the best course of treatment for you.

Testicular cancer treatment options

Testicular cancer treatment will depend on the type and stage of the cancer. Treatment options for testicular cancer include the following.


In most cases, surgical removal of the affected testicle is necessary. This procedure is called an orchidectomy and takes about 30 minutes to perform. If cancer is confined to the testicle, you may not need any further treatment.

You can choose to have a prosthetic implant to replace the removed testicle. This feels and looks like a normal testicle. You can have it put in during the orchidectomy or at a later date.

Chemotherapy or radiotherapy

If cancer has spread outside of the testicle, you might also need chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to help destroy cancer cells.

Testicular cancer treatment Northern Beaches Hospital

Receiving a diagnosis of testicular cancer can understandably lead to a range of feelings, from shock to uncertainty to anxiety about the future. Importantly, most people get a good outcome, especially with early diagnosis and treatment. If you have any concerns about your testicular health, see your GP.

The experienced urologists at Northern Beaches Hospital provide world-class testicular cancer diagnosis and treatment. You can use our specialist and doctor search to find leading Northern Beaches urologists and ask your GP for a referral to one of them.

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