Stage 1 testicular cancer may or may not have spread beyond your testicle, and it hasn’t yet spread to your lymph nodes or distant body parts. With prompt treatment, your outlook could be excellent.

Doctors most commonly stage testicular cancer using the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s TNM staging system. This staging system classifies testicular cancer from stages 0 to 3 based on:

  • T: size of the tumor
  • N: spread to nearby lymph nodes
  • M: metastasis (spread) to distant areas
  • S: serum levels of tumor markers in the blood

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 9,760 people will get a diagnosis of testicular cancer in the United States in 2024. About two-thirds of people with a diagnosis of the most common type of testicular cancer are in stage 1.

Doctors often successfully treat stage 1 testicular cancer with surgery alone. Sometimes, they may combine surgery with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Read on to learn more about stage 1 testicular cancer, including its symptoms, treatment options, and outlook.

The four stages of testicular cancer

Here’s a brief look at the four stages of testicular cancer:

  • Stage 0: Stage 0 testicular cancer is contained to the small tubes inside your testicle.
  • Stage 1: Stage 1 testicular cancer has grown outside these tubes and possibly outside the testicles, and you may have elevated tumor markers on a blood test.
  • Stage 2: Stage 2 testicular cancer may have grown outside the testicle or into nearby lymph nodes, and it may cause elevated tumor markers on a blood test.
  • Stage 3: Stage 3 testicular cancer may have spread to distant body parts, such as your lung.
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Stage 1 is the earliest stage of testicular cancer. It hasn’t yet spread to lymph nodes or distant body parts. Stage 0 is considered precancerous.

Most people who get a diagnosis of testicular cancer have stage 1 cancer. Often, doctors successfully treat it with surgery, possibly combined with other treatments.

Stage 1 testicular cancer has four substages:

1Your tumor has grown beyond your seminiferous tubules and may or may not have grown outside your testicle.
1AYour tumor has grown beyond your seminiferous tubules but not outside your testicle.
1BYour tumor has grown outside your testicle and into nearby structures.
1SYour tumor might have grown outside your testicle, or a doctor can’t assess its extent. At this stage, at least one tumor marker is higher than usual.

Can you survive stage 1 testicular cancer?

Stage 1 testicular cancer often has an excellent outlook, and the vast majority of people survive their cancer. You’ll still need regular monitoring after treatment to make sure your cancer doesn’t return.

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Early stage testicular cancer often doesn’t cause any symptoms. The most common initial symptom is a painless lump in your testicle, usually only on one side. This lump can grow larger than a pea.

Other initial symptoms can include:

  • swelling around your testicle
  • increased firmness in your testicle
  • a noticeable enlargement to one side of your scrotum
  • pain or a dull ache in your testicle or scrotum
  • a heavy feeling in your scrotum or abdomen

Learn more about the early symptoms of testicular cancer.

Does testicular cancer spread quickly?

Some types of testicular cancer grow quicker than others. The most common type of testicular cancer is germ cell cancer, which doctors divide into seminoma tumors and nonseminoma tumors. Nonseminoma tumors tend to grow quicker.

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Doctors often find stage 1 testicular cancer incidentally during imaging for an unrelated reason, like testicular trauma. They might also discover it following the removal of one of your testicles.

Tests for testicular cancer include:

Treatment for stage 1 testicular cancer depends on the type of cancer you have.

If you have a seminoma tumor, the most common treatments are surgery to remove the testicle, with regular follow-ups to monitor whether the cancer has returned, and surgery to remove the testicle followed by chemotherapy.

Treatment for nonseminoma tumors usually includes:

  • surgery to remove your testicle, with long-term follow-ups
  • surgery to remove your testicle and nearby lymph nodes, with long-term follow-ups
  • surgery followed by chemotherapy, with long-term follow-ups for cancers with a high chance of returning

Some people may receive radiation therapy after surgery. These people usually have 10–15 treatments over 2–3 weeks.

Learn more about testicular cancer surgery.

The outlook for people with stage 1 testicular cancer is generally excellent. In the United States in 2013–2019, the 5-year relative survival rate among people with diagnosed testicular cancer contained to a testicle was 99.2%.

The 5-year relative survival rate is a measure of how many people with the cancer live at least 5 years compared with people without the cancer.

Learn more about factors that affect your outlook.

Stage 1 testicular cancer is almost always curable. The most common treatment for stage 1 testicular cancer is surgery. A doctor may also suggest chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery.

The outlook for testicular cancer is generally best with early treatment. It’s important to contact your doctor if you notice any concerning changes to one of your testicles.