Testicular cancer most often affects males ages 15 to 35, but the overall incidence is rare.
However, all males should know the signs of this cancer so that if they suspect it, they can promptly see their doctor.
It is not known what exactly causes testicular cancer. Healthy cells starting to grow out of control results in the tumor, but exactly why these cells do this remains unknown. Doctors believe that most testicular cancers originate in the germ cells of the testicles. There are certain risk factors that may make a man more prone to this cancer. These include:
- Abnormal testicle development
- Being 15 to 35 years old
- Having an undescended testicle
- A family history of this cancer
- Being Caucasian
Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
In most cases, the cancer only affects one of the testicles. The symptoms may include:
- Testicular lump or enlargement
- Scrotum feels heavier than usual
- Scrotum or testicle discomfort or pain
- Groin or abdominal area has a dull ache
- The scrotum has fluid collecting in it
- Breast tenderness or enlargement
- Back pain
In many cases, the symptoms of this cancer alert men to something being wrong. The doctor will usually start by examining the affected testicle to look for abnormalities, such as lumps. If the doctor believes cancer might be present, they will usually order further testing, such as:
- Blood testing to determine if the patient has certain tumor markers
- Ultrasound to get a better look at the anatomy of the testicles
- Removal of the affected testicle for pathological testing
If cancer is present, the doctor will perform tests to determine if it is a nonseminoma or a seminoma. After this, blood testing and a CT scan may be performed to determine the stage of the cancer. The stage will play an important role in the treatment regimen that the doctor prescribes.
Treatment of Testicular Cancer
There are several treatment options that doctors might recommend. Surgery is relatively common. It can be done to remove the cancerous testicle, and in some cases, some of the lymph nodes that are near the affected testicle.
Radiation can be performed. It works to kill cancer cells by directing a beam of energy onto the cancerous area. This treatment might be done alone or along with surgery and chemotherapy, depending on the exact testicular cancer the patient has and the stage.
Chemotherapy is another option for treating this type of cancer. There are different drugs that doctors might recommend, but all of them work to kill cancer cells. These drugs might be given intravenously according to a specific schedule. There are also some oral options.
It is important that all men who suspect testicular cancer consult their physician. There are treatment options available that can be discussed should this cancer be present.