Testicular cancer is one of the rarest types of cancer, accounting for about 1% of cancer cases for men. Although this type of cancer can occur in men at any age, it is the most common in men ages 15-35. In fact, it is the most common type of cancer for men in this age range.
- An estimated 9,470 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021, and about 440 deaths are expected.
- For males, the lifetime risk for developing testicular cancer is about 1 in 250.
- Thanks to early detection and advanced treatments, a man’s lifetime risk of dying from testicular cancer is low: approximately 1 in 5,000 men will die from testicular cancer.
- Many men who develop testicular cancer have no risk factors at all. However, certain conditions such as undescended testicle(s), HIV infection, abnormal testicular development and a family history of testicular cancer may increase the odds of developing testicular cancer.
Source: American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2021 and the Society’s website
Signs and Symptoms
A symptom is a change in the body that a person can see and/or feel. A sign is a change that the doctor sees during an examination or on a laboratory test result. If you have any of the symptoms below, it does not mean you have cancer but you should see your doctor or health care professional so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
- Lump or swelling in the testicle
- Breast growth or soreness
- Early puberty in boys
- Low back pain, from cancer spread to the lymph nodes (bean-sized collections of immune cells) in back of the belly.
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, or a cough (even coughing up blood) may develop from cancer spread in the lungs.
- Belly pain, either from enlarged lymph nodes or because the cancer has spread to the liver.
- Headaches or confusion, from cancer spread in the brain.
Source: American Cancer website 2021
Testicular Cancer Research
In addition to specific projects listed below, genomics research is helping us attack testicular cancer – and all types of cancer. NFCR has distinguished itself from other organizations by emphasizing long-term, transformative research and working to move people toward cancer genomics.
Cytokine IL/24 is an immune modulator gene discovered by Dr. Paul Fisher. IL/24 destroys primary and metastatic tumor cells throughout the body of most types of cancer but is non-toxic to healthy cells. His research has shown that testicular cancer is sensitive to IL/14 treatment. IL/24 activates our immune system, inhibits new blood vessel formation to starve tumors of blood and nutrients, and sensitizes tumor cells to radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Dr. Fisher is developing different approaches for IL/24 gene therapy including a theranostic approach (detection combined with treatment and monitoring) and an adoptive cell therapy that supercharges patient’s immune T cells with IL/24 gene.
Dr. Fisher and Dr. Web Cavenee are translating IL/24 gene therapy so it may reach a Phase I clinical trial and treat patients with the aggressive brain cancer, GBM. They hope to advance the IL/24 treatment for other cancers so many patients can benefit from this powerful gene therapy.
Harold F. Dvorak, M.D., discovered that tumor cells secrete a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and this seminal discovery provided the molecular basis for the field of angiogenesis (meaning “blood vessel formation”). Angiogenesis makes it possible for tumors to grow and spread, and Dr. Dvorak’s discovery helped pave the way for research on anti-angiogenesis treatments that can halt and even reverse tumor growth.
In 2004, the first VEGF-targeting anti-angiogenic drug Avastin® (Bevacizumab), was approved by the FDA for the treatment of colorectal cancer, and, today, in addition to colorectal cancer, Avastin is approved for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, the aggressive brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and certain types of cervical and ovarian cancers.
Bevacizumab (with sequential chemotherapy) shows potential excellent outcomes in treating refractory or poor-risk relapsed patients with germ cell tumors (major type of testicular cancer).