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Testicular cancer can spread to the lymph nodes (also known as glands), for example in your abdomen (tummy), or form tumours in the lungs or other organs. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.
About the testiclesThe testicles are located inside the scrotum, the loose bag of skin that hangs below the penis. From the start of puberty, each testicle produces sperm and the hormone testosterone.
Types of testicular cancerThere are two main types of testicular cancer: seminoma and non-seminoma (including teratoma). The names refer to the type of cell that makes up the tumour.
Very rarely, another type of cancer, called a lymphoma, can occur in the testicles. This is cancer of the lymphatic tissue (which forms part of the immune system). It's the most common testicular cancer in men over 50.
Causes of testicular cancerThe causes of testicular cancer are unknown. However, the number of men who develop it is increasing and research is being done to find out why.
The greatest risk is for men born with an undescended testicle (one that remains in the abdominal cavity rather than descending into the scrotum). Boys who don't have the condition corrected by the age of 11 may be up to 32 times more likely to develop testicular cancer later.
Other risk factors include:
- having a brother or father who had testicular cancer
- fertility problems
- being from a wealthier social group
- being white
- having a rare complication of mumps called orchitis (painful swelling of the testicles)