Risk factors, signs and symptoms

Testicular cancer occurs when normal, healthy cells in the testicles start to reproduce uncontrollably.

  • 2,400 cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year.
  • Testicular cancer most commonly affects men between the ages of 15-45 and is the most common cancer in men aged between 25-49 in the UK (Cancer Research UK).
  • Nearly half of those diagnosed in the UK will be under the age of 35.
  • 95% of men will be alive 5 years after treatment.
  • Around 60 young men die of testicular cancer each year.

Whilst we at Orchid use the term ‘male cancer’ we recognise that this language might be dysphoric for the transgender and non-binary community affected by testicular cancer.

Around 2,400 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year in the UK. Nearly half of these men are under the age of 35. Most men will be cured.

Signs and symptoms

  • A small pea-sized lump attached to the body of the testicle. In the majority of cases, this lump may be painless.
  • Men  may feel a  dragging sensation, ache or pain (although this is more common in non-cancerous conditions) in their scrotum.
  • Breast swelling or tenderness (called gynaecomastia). This is rare but some types of testicular cancer produces a  hormone that can cause breast tenderness and discomfort.
  • Back pain caused by enlarged lymph nodes in the back.

Risk Factors

Testicular cancer is classified as a non-preventable cancer but there are some factors which increase the risk.


Cryptorchidism is a term used to describe and undescended testicle(s). The testicles form in the abdomen and usually descend into the baby’s scrotum at birth or shortly afterwards.

If this does not happen, minor surgery can be performed to correct this, called an orchidopexy.

Around 10% of men diagnosed with testicular cancer  have a history of this condition. Even if corrective surgery is performed the risk of developing testicular cancer is greater.

Pre-cancerous Cells

Sometimes, pre-cancerous cells can be found inside the testicles, for instance when men are being treated for male infertility.

This condition is also called intratubular germ cell neoplasia (IGCN).

There is a 50% chance that these cells will develop into testicular cancer within five years.

Family History

If a brother or father has been affected by testicular cancer, the risk to a first degree male relative is higher.

Caucasian (white) men have a higher risk of testicular cancer than men from other ethnic groups.

Male Infertility

Men who suffer from some forms of male infertility have a slightly higher risk of developing testicular cancer. There may also be an association with poorly functioning testicles.

Other Possible Factors

There is some evidence that men who are taller than average have a slightly increased risk.

Twins have an increased risk, especially if they are identical. However, as testicular cancer is rare, the risk remains low.

Controversial Factors

Several small research studies have suggested that men who smoke marijuana regularly and develop testicular cancer are more likely to suffer a potentially more aggressive form of the disease.

Reviewed 1/2024