Testicular cancer develops in the testicles (testes) that are located inside the scrotum. The scrotum looks like a loose bag located underneath the penis and produces sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. Testicular cancer is rare but is highly treatable depending on its stage and level, even if it has spread beyond the testicle area.
What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer occurs in the male sex gland, which is also known as the “testis”. It can affect a man or even a boy of any age. The 15 to 35 years age group is said to be more vulnerable to testicular cancer, but can occur at any age. Testicular cancer can be treated and even be cured if diagnosed early.
The recovery also depends on how a patient reacts to the treatment and the cancer cell type that has developed in testicles. For better outcomes, it is important that the patient recognizes the early signs and symptoms and seeks medical care.
What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?
Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- Enlargement of the testicle
- Lumps in testicle
- Heaviness in the scrotum area
- Pain in the abdomen or groin section
- A sudden fluid collection in the scrotum area
- Pain in testicles
- Discomfort in testicles
- Sudden enlargement of breasts
- Back pain
When should I see a doctor?
You should see your doctor if you detect any lumps, swelling, or pain in the testes or your groin area, mainly if these signs last longer than two weeks.
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How is testicular cancer caused?
In most cases, it is not clear what causes testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer generally occurs when healthy cells in the testicle gets altered. While healthy cells grow and divide in a orderly manner, some cells sometimes develop abnormalities, causing such growth to get out of control and such cancer cells continue to divide even when the new cells are not needed. These accumulating cells form a mass in your testicle.
Doctors recommend regular self-examination to detect if there are any signs of testicular cancer in your body.
What are the risk factors?
Factors that may raise your risk of testicular cancer are:
- Cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle): The testes form in your abdominal region during the fetal development and generally descend into the scrotum before your birth. Men whose testicle has never descended are at a higher risk of testicular cancer compared to those in whom the testicles descended normally. The risk remains increased even if the testicle was surgically relocated to the scrotum. Most of the men who develop testicular cancer still do not have a history of undescended testicles.
- Abnormal testicle development: Conditions that may lead to abnormal development of testicles like Klinefelter syndrome, may also elavate your risk of testicular cancer.
- Age. Testicular cancer can affect those in teens and younger men, mainly those between 15 and 35 years of age. But, it can happen at any age.
- Family history: you may be at a higher risk, if family members have had testicular cancer
- Race: This cancer is more prevalent in white men compared to black men.
What are the treatment options for testicular cancer?
The treatment for testicular cancer completely depends on the stage of the disease. Here are some of the treatments available that can help you recover.
Surgery used for treating testicular cancer include:
Radical inguinal orchiectomy (surgery to remove testicle): It is the primary treatment for almost all stages and types of testicular cancer.
Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (surgical removal of nearby lymph nodes): This is performed through an cut/incision in the abdomen.
Radiation therapy: The therapy makes use of high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. beams at precise points on your body. Radiation therapy is a treatment option that’s sometimes used in people who have the seminoma type of testicular cancer. Radiation therapy may be recommended after surgery to remove your testicle.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy could be the only treatment, or it may be recommended before or after lymph node removal surgery.
Testicular cancer is a rare disease and the recovery rate is high. Early detection is very important. You can talk your doctor and seek advice on how to perform self-assessment to keep yourself safe from this disease.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are there any chances for cancer to grow after the treatment as well?
In a rare case scenario, it is possible that cancer may regrow. But even if it grows, it is possible to treat it as well and one should always keep self-examining the testicles and also undergoing regular follow up screening.
How can you perform a self-examination for testicular cancer?
Self-examination is one of the best ways to check signs of early tumors or cancer. Here are a few ways you can perform self-examination:
- Check the testicles by firmly rolling them between your thumb, forefingers and both hands. Make sure that you feel the entire surface and the firmness of your testicles should be the same all over the area. It is normal for one of your testicles to be slightly bigger than the other one.
- Try to find the vas deferens and epididymis area. These things are soft tube-like structures that appear above and behind the testicles. These tubes carry sperm and it is important to check this as well.
- Look for lumps, swellings and pain in your scrotum. Pain is not normal, so aren’t the lumps.
- Make sure that you do all these once a month at least.
For more details, consult your doctor.