By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Testicular cancer is one of the less common cancers, accounting for around 1% of all cancers that affect men. The cases that do develop usually affect men aged between 15 and 49 years. The treatment of this cancer is more effective the earlier it is started, so it is important that men who detect any abnormalities in their testicles seek medical advice as soon as possible.
According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, there will be around 8,820 new cases of testicular cancer detected and 380 deaths due to this cancer in the United States during 2014.
Testicular cancer has been on the rise in the United States and other countries over the last few decades. The increase has mainly been seen for the seminoma cancer type, an increase which is unexplained. The risk of a man developing this cancer in his lifetime is around 1 in 270 and because treatment for the condition is usually successful, a man’s lifetime risk of death due to testicular cancer is around 1 in 5,000.
The average age-at-diagnosis for testicular cancer is 33 year, with only around 6% of cases occurring in children or teens and only 7% occurring in men older than 55 years.
Although this cancer is uncommon, there are peaks of incidence among different age groups for certain types of cancer. These include:
- The incidence of teratomas and yolk sac tumors peaks among those aged up to four years.
- The incidence of post-pubertal seminomas and non-seminomas peaks for ages 25 to 40.
- Spermatocytic seminomas are usually seen among those aged 60 and older.
- Germ cell tumors are usually seen among those aged 15 to 35 years.
Testicular cancer is more common among White Caucasian men than among African and Asian men. Since the 1960s, testicular cancer has been most prevalent among men from New Zealand, Scandinavia and Germany.
Among African Americans, incidence has doubled between 1988 and 2001, with the highest increase observed for seminoma. There was little increase in the incidence of early-stage disease during this time frame, suggesting that the overall increase was not due to improved awareness of the condition.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Sep 16, 2014