Testicular cancer is a disease in which cancer cells are discovered in one or both testicles. The testicles, also known as testes or gonads, are located in a pouch beneath the penis called the scrotum.
The testicles make up one portion of the male reproductive system. Normally, they are each somewhat smaller than a golf ball in size and are contained within the scrotum. The testicles are a man's primary source of male hormones, particularly testosterone. They also produce sperm.
There are several types of cells contained in the testicles, and any of these may develop into one or more types of cancer. Over 90% of all testicular cancers begin in cells called germ cells. There are two main types of germ cell tumors in men: seminomas and nonseminomas. Seminomas make up about 40% of all testicular germ cell tumors. Nonseminomas make up a group of cancers, which include choriocarcinoma, yolk sac tumors, embryonal carcinoma, and teratoma.
Although testicular cancer accounts for less then 2% of all cancers in men, it is the most commonly seen cancer in young men aged 15 to 35. It is also one of the most curable.
The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 7,200 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in 2001. In addition, about 400 men will die of the disease during that year. Though the incidence of testicular cancer is rising, having doubled in the last 30 years, it is still rare. Scandinavian countries have the highest rate in the world. Germany and New Zealand also have high rates. The lowest incidences of testicular cancer are in Asia and Africa.
Deanna Swartout-Corbeil R.N., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,