What is it?
Testicular cancer happens when cancer cells grow in the testicles. The testicles (testes) are located inside the scrotum on a man. The testicles produce sperm and other male hormones. Testicular cancer is rare when compared to other types of cancer but it is the most common cancer in males between the ages of 15 to 35 years old. Testicular cancer is highly treatable and various treatments exist depending on the severity of the cancer.
Symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- A lump on the testicle
- Heaviness around the testicle
- A dull ache in the groin, abdomen, or back
- Pain or discomfort in the testicles or scrotum
- Enlargement of the breast tissue
It is not clear what causes testicular cancer however there factors that may increase risk:
- Having an undescended testicle (cryptorchidism)
- Previous history of testicular cancer
- Abnormal testicle development
- Family history
- Age – Statistically between 15 to 35 years of age are more prone
- Race – Testicular cancer is more common in white males
To test for testicular cancer your physician will check the testicle for lumps during a physical examination.
An ultrasound may also be used to search for lumps and to give the doctor a better determination whether the lumps are solid or fluid filled.
A blood test may be performed to look for tumor markers in the blood. Tumor markers are always present in the blood stream but elevate when certain situations occur like testicular cancer.
A CT scan may be used to check the abdomen and surrounding areas for signs of cancer.
A few different treatment options are available:
A radical inguinal orchiectomy is the most typical form of treatment for testicular cancer. During the surgery the testicle is removed but can be replaced with a prosthetic if the patient chooses. In the early stages of testicular cancer this is the only treatment needed. In more advanced stages other treatments will be necessary.
Radiation Therapy utilizes high power energy beams precisely directed at the affected cancer cells to kill them from outside the body. There are side effects to radiation therapy including fatigue, skin redness, and irritation in the groin area.
Chemotherapy uses powerful medication to kill cancer cells. The drugs are introduced through the bloodstream and travel through the body killing cancer cells. Some of the side effects include hair loss, nausea, vomiting, a weakened immune system, and fever.
Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for based on your condition.