Know the signs of cancer that strikes younger men

man at doctor visitWe’re celebrating Men’s Health Month by spreading the word about testicular cancer. For many men, prioritizing healthcare is not high on their to-do list, which can lead to many warning signs and symptoms flying under the radar. Here’s what to know when it comes to understanding and addressing this rare, but deadly, disease that primarily affects younger men.

What is testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer starts in either one or both of the testicles, which are part of the male reproductive system. Cancer begins when cells start to grow out of control. These can form a tumor and sometimes spread to other areas of the body.

While less prevalent amongst men than prostate cancer, testicular cancer often develops without noticeable symptoms in its earliest stages. This means regular screenings and check-ups are vital for early detection. Performing self-examinations alongside routine visits with your physician can help identify potential issues ahead of time and offer more treatment options.

Who is most likely to get it?

Testicular cancer is not very common. The American Cancer Society estimates around 9,760 new cases of testicular cancer in 2024 and around 500 deaths. But the rates of this cancer have risen amongst men, especially those who are young or middle-aged, over several decades. Factors such as age, family history and an undescended testicle can affect one’s risk. The majority of cases occur in men between the ages of 15 and 35. Only about 8% occur in men ages 55 and older.

Symptoms may present themselves as:

  • A lump or swelling in the testicle
  • A feeling of heaviness
  • Dull aching or pain in the lower stomach or groin area
  • Enlargement or pain in breast tissue
  • Back pain

What should I do next?

If you notice any symptoms or have a family or personal history of testicular cancer, it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor. Fostering an open conversation with your healthcare provider makes it more likely that you’ll receive the care and treatment you need and increase the chances of early detection.