Testicular Cancer Rates on the Rise

The incidence of testicular cancer continued to rise in the United States over the past decade, most notably among Hispanic men, according to the results of a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in San Diego, California.

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among young men ages 15 to 45. The testicles are located inside the scrotum (a sac of loose skin that lies directly under the penis). Testicular cancer—also called germ cell cancer—occurs in the tissues of one or both testicles. Testicular cancers are relatively rare but highly curable. The incidence of testicular cancer has been on the rise for quite some time—in fact, the rate of testicular cancer doubled in the United States between 1975 and 2003.

The cause of testicular cancer is poorly understood. Developed countries have a higher prevalence of the disease than undeveloped countries, which suggests that environmental factors may be involved. An increased incidence of testicular cancer has been associated with early puberty, testicular trauma, cigarette and marijuana smoking, and exposure to toxic substances such as lead.

To examine whether testicular cancer rates continued to rise after 2003, researchers analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database. The results indicated that the overall incidence of testicular cancer rose annually by 1.1 percent, increasing from 5.7 cases per 100,000 in 1992 to 6.8/100,000 in 2009. The incidence rate rose steadily across all racial/ethnic groups except Asian/Pacific Islanders who saw a decline between 1992 and 2003 and then an increase between 2003 and 2009, which averaged out to a 0.77 percent annual increase.

White men still have the highest incidence rate. Among white men, the rate of testicular cancer increased from 7.5/100,000 in 1992 to 8.4/100,000 in 2003 and 8.6/100,000 in 2009, representing an annual increase of 1.2 percent. In black men, the incidence rate rose annually by 1.4 percent—from 0.7/100,000 in 1992 to 1.4 in 2003 and 1.7 in 2009.

Notably, the incidence rate among Hispanic men saw a huge jump in the last decade. Between 1992 and 2002, their rate of testicular cancer increased by 0.7 percent annually; however, between 2002 and 2009, that annual increase jumped to 5.6 percent—from 4.9/100,000 in 2003 to 6.3/100,000 in 2009.

There was a significant increase in both localized (1.21% per year) and metastatic (1.4% per year) testicular germ-cell tumors. White men experienced an increase in the rate of localized cancer (1.56% annually), while Hispanic men experienced significant annual increases in localized (2.6%), regional (16.5%), and distant metastatic (2.6%) disease.

The researchers concluded that the incidence rates for testicular cancer continue to rise in the United States, most notably among Hispanic men. The reasons for the rise are unclear.



Nigam M, Shikanov S, Aschebrooke-Kilfoy B, et al. The increasing incidence of testicular cancer in the United States from 1992 to 2009. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association in San Diego May 4-8, 2013. Abstract 933.

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