While testicular cancer and prostate cancer have some similarities, such as a potential for early detection and effective treatment, they have key differences in risk factors, symptoms, and incidence rates.

Testicular cancer and prostate cancer are two types of cancer that affect the male reproductive system.

Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles, which are responsible for producing sperm and sex hormones. It’s relatively rare but is the most common cancer in men 20–35 years old.

Prostate cancer develops in the prostate, a small gland that produces seminal fluid. It’s one of the most common types of cancer in men older than 50. It’s more prevalent than testicular cancer.

Here we explore the similarities and differences between these two types of cancer, including symptoms, risk factors, and diagnosis. We also discuss whether one type of cancer leads to another, as well as the treatments and outlook for both types.

Language matters

In this article, we talk about two types of cancer that occur in people assigned male at birth. Your gender identity may not align with the sex you were assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

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Knowing the symptoms of testicular and prostate cancer can help you detect cancer early.

Testicular cancer symptoms

Symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • a lump or enlargement in a testicle
  • a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum
  • pain or discomfort in your testicles, scrotum, groin, or abdomen
  • fluid buildup in your scrotum

Prostate cancer symptoms

Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

Risk factors for both cancers vary, especially with age.

Testicular cancer risk factors

Risk factors for testicular cancer include:

  • Age: This cancer is more common in men 20–35 years old.
  • Race: White people are more likely to develop testicular cancer than people of other races.
  • Undescended testicle: Having a testicle that never descended increases your risk.
  • Family history: If your father or brother has had testicular cancer, you may be at higher risk.
  • HIV: Having HIV increases your risk of getting testicular cancer.

Prostate cancer risk factors

Risk factors for prostate cancer include:

  • Age: Risk increases with age, especially after age 50.
  • Ethnicity: African American males and Caribbean males of African descent carry a greater risk of prostate cancer than those of other ethnicities.
  • Family history: Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles your risk.
  • Genetics: Some genetic mutations can increase your risk.

These are two separate types of cancer that start in different parts of your body. Therefore, testicular cancer does not become prostate cancer, or vice versa.

Still, some studies have found correlations between the two.

For example, a 2019 case study suggests that it’s possible but very rare for prostate cancer to metastasize, or spread, into the testicles. Also, people who have had testicular cancer may have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer later in life.

Doctors use several tools and tests to diagnose testicular and prostate cancer, but the methods are not always identical.

Testicular cancer diagnosis

For testicular cancer, a physical examination is often the first step. A doctor will check your testicles for lumps, swelling, or pain.

If they suspect an abnormality, they will order an ultrasound to see images of your testicles and reveal any tumors. Blood tests can also help diagnose testicular cancer by detecting elevated levels of certain proteins that may indicate the presence of cancer.

You can self-screen for testicular cancer by checking whether you have any lumps or whether one testicle is larger than the other.

Doctors will not perform a biopsy on suspected testicular cancer because this increases the risk that the cancer will spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Prostate cancer diagnosis

A prostate cancer diagnosis also starts with a physical exam.

If a doctor suspects an issue with your prostate, they will perform a digital rectal exam so they can feel your prostate for any abnormalities.

They may also order a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. High PSA levels could suggest prostate cancer.

If these tests indicate a potential problem, further tests, such as an MRI scan or a biopsy, may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

However, a PSA test on its own is not definitive and may indicate cancer when there is none. It’s possible to purchase at-home PSA tests, but it’s far better to have regular checkups with a doctor.

Although testicular and prostate cancers both affect the male reproductive system, they involve different treatment approaches.

Testicular cancer treatment

The primary treatment for testicular cancer is surgery, specifically an orchiectomy, which involves the removal of the affected testicle. This is typically followed by radiation or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. If the cancer has already spread, you may need to undergo chemotherapy before surgery.

Prostate cancer treatment

Prostate cancer treatment varies depending on how aggressive the cancer is and whether it has spread. Options include:

Both testicular and prostate cancer generally have a positive outlook.

Testicular cancer prognosis

Testicular cancer generally has an excellent outlook, with an overall 5-year relative survival rate of 95%. The outlook depends significantly on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis.

Prostate cancer prognosis

The outlook for prostate cancer depends on several factors, including the cancer’s aggressiveness and stage at diagnosis. For localized prostate cancer, which has not spread outside the prostate, the 5-year relative survival rate is nearly 100%. The 5-year relative survival rate for all stages combined is 97%.

Testicular cancer and prostate cancer are related in a way because they both affect the groin area. However, they differ in symptoms, risk factors, and diagnosis. Treatment often depends on the cancer’s stage and your overall health. Make sure to consult a doctor if you have concerns.