In this article, you’ll get everything you need to know about Testicular Cancer.
Testicular cancer begins in the testicles and may spread to other parts of the body. It is a rare type of cancer that is the most prevalent malignancy in men between fifteen and thirty-five years old in the US. The testicles, located in the scrotum underneath the penis, produce various male sex hormones and sperm. However, testicular cancer is highly treatable even when it metastasizes to other organs. This article will focus on the necessary information regarding testicular cancer, its risk factors, cause, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
How common is testicular cancer?
The American Cancer Society reports that an estimated 440 men will die from testicular cancer in the US in 2020. Similarly, there will be 9,610 new cases this year. About 1 in every 250 men will develop the disease at some point in their lifetime. Most people receive a diagnosis at 33 years old, on average. The risk of dying due to testicular cancer is 1 to 5,000.
Risk factors of testicular cancer
Risk factors increase a person’s chance of developing a disease. Having many of these does not mean you will develop the disease. Similarly, not having any risk factors does not mean you will not have the condition in the future. The following are the most well-known risk factors for testicular cancer:
- Cryptorchidism. This medical condition refers to having an undescended testicle that didn’t descend before birth from the abdominal area.
- Abnormal development of the testicle that occurs in some medical conditions or syndromes increases the chances of cancer. Such an example is Klinefelter syndrome.
- A family history of testicular cancer raises your likelihood to present with the disease in the future.
- Being between 15 and 35 years old increases your chance of developing testicular cancer.
- Being white raises your chance of developing testicular cancer, in comparison with being black.
What is the cause of testicular cancer?
Scientists do not know the exact cause of testicular cancer, except for the fact that some cells start growing and multiplying out of control, creating a tumor. The disease can spread to other tissues, as well. Most types of testicular cancer begin in the germ cells, responsible for producing immature sperm. It is not clear why some of these start growing out of control. However, the risk factors of testicular cancer seem to increase the chance of an individual to develop the disease.
Symptoms and signs of testicular cancer
Testicular cancer most commonly affects a single testicle. The following are some symptoms and signs of testicular cancer:
- A lump in the testicle
- An enlarged testicle
- Feeling your scrotum heavy
- Inflammation or fluid collection in the scrotum
- Pain in one testicle, or scrotum
- Having pain in the back
- Having a dull ache in the groin
Diagnosis of testicular cancer
Most people have symptoms that suggest testicular cancer. When they consult their doctor, he or she performs a physical exam and asks questions to find out more about the history and risk factors of the individual. During the clinical examination, your doctor will examine your testicles to check for lumps or swelling. The doctor will also review your lymph nodes and abdominal area to check for signs of metastasis. According to the results of the above, he or she will suggest further testing. Some of the investigations used to diagnose testicular cancer are the following:
- Ultrasound of the testicles
- Blood tests to test for tumor markers
- Biopsy to take a sample tissue and examine it under the microscope
- Surgery and testicle extraction to determine if it’s cancerous
- Imaging tests to check for metastasis and to stage the tumor
Can you diagnose testicular cancer early?
Yes. Testicular cancer usually causes early symptoms that make men seek for medical care and attention early in the course of the disease. Usually, it presents as a swelling in the scrotum or a lump in the testicle. Although some types of testicular cancer are asymptomatic until later stages, they are usually highly treatable even in more advanced stages. Most doctors suggest examining the testicles should be part of all clinical examinations, as a screening method for testicular cancer.
Types of testicular cancer
Scientists classify testicular cancer according to the cells responsible for the disease. It is vital to know what class of testicular cancer you have so that you can receive appropriate treatment. The two general types of testicular cancer are seminomas and nonseminomas. Seminomas are not very aggressive and occur in older men. Nonseminomas occur in younger men and are generally more aggressive than seminomas. Each category consists of many subtypes of testicular cancer that require special care and treatment.
What is the treatment of testicular cancer?
The treatment of testicular cancer depends on many factors, including the patient’s overall health, age, history, type, and stage of testicular cancer. The disease is highly treatable and responds well to therapeutic interventions, even in the presence of metastasis. There are three standard treatment methods for testicular cancer, which are the following:
- Radiation therapy
During surgery, your surgeon will remove your testicle and surrounding lymph nodes, if necessary. Radiation therapy, mostly reserved for seminomas, uses high-powered energy beams to kill the tumor and its cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses oral drugs to kill cancer cells. You might need to take it alone or in combination with another therapeutic intervention, such as surgery. While surgery might carry some common risks, radiation therapy and chemotherapy have some side effects. Consider consulting your doctor to learn more about your treatment options and their potential side effects.