All you need to know about Testicular Cancer
Global statistics show that testicular cancer is the most prevalent cancer in men aged 15 -34 years. The sexual organs located in the scrotum are called the testicles. Their job is to produce sperm and the male sex hormones for reproduction. Testicular cancer is caused by the mutation of testicular cells. Testicular cancer is considered to be rare when compared to other cancers, but it still afflicts men between the ages of 15-35 at an alarming rate.
Symptoms and Signs of Testicular Cancer
Here is a list of symptoms to be on the lookout for:
- Enlargement or lump of the testicle (usually one testicle is affected)
- Pain, discomfort, or heaviness in the testicle or scrotum)
- A dull ache in the groin or lower abdominal area
- Fluid accumulation in the scrotum
- Swollen groin lymph nodes.
- Breast tenderness or swelling
Be aware of your risk!
If you are between the ages of 15-35, have an undescended testicle, be of a certain ethnicity or have a personal or family history of testicular cancer, you should consider being screened. If testicular cancer is detected early, the chance of a cure and full recovery dramatically increases. The majority of testicular cancers emanate from germ cells. These are cells that produce immature sperm. They can be either a nonseminoma tumor or a seminoma. No one knows what causes germ cells to mutate and develop into cancer. However, the following factors may increase your risk of testicular cancer:
- Personal history of testicular cancer (i.e. in the other testicle)
- Family history of testicular cancer
- An undescended testicle
- Abnormal testicle development
- Syndromes such as Klinefelter syndrome
- Being in the age bracket 15-35. However, you should be mindful that testicular cancer can occur at any age as well.
Some men may still develop testicular cancer without any known risk factors. Cancer can also originate in connective (stromal) tissues. They are usually benign but can become malignant. These may take root in the tissue that produces hormones in the testes. Testicular cancers may also be secondary in that it may be emanating from another organ. They may also be lymphomas.
Here are some questions that you may have on the subject.
What can I expect during my consultation?
If a lump or some irregularity is discovered, your doctor will order an ultrasound of the testes to determine the size of the testicular lump.
The next step will be to do blood tests for tumor markers. Lastly, a computed tomography (CT) scan of the brain, chest, pelvis, and abdomen will be taken. This is done to verify whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
What are the treatment options available for Testicular Cancer?
The good news is that testicular cancer is highly treatable. It is extremely sensitive to chemotherapy even if it has spread outside the origin site.
Statistics are extremely encouraging since cure rates have been recorded at 90%-95%. It is important to note that patients who have been cured of testicular cancer have a 2% risk of cancer developing in the other testicle. Naturally, if the testicular cancer is detected early when it is small and has not spread outside of the testicle, the likelihood of a cure increases.
Testicular cancer in its early stages may cause the symptoms itemized above driving men to seek medical attention. The most common symptom is a testicular lump. However, you should also know that some patients have only exhibited symptoms in the later stages.
There are doctors that advise that all men should examine their testicles on a monthly basis after puberty. However, there is no evidence that suggests that this should be a recommendation for everyone since no studies have been done regarding its effect on death rates. As such it becomes a matter of personal responsibility. Each man must decide whether or not he wants to perform regular examinations on himself. We suggest that you do so if you have any of the risk factors mentioned above. If you find a lump seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor will guide you from there.
Are there any preventative measures for testicular cancer?
There are no known preventative measures for testicular cancer. However, regular self-examinations may be helpful.
How do you perform Testicular Self-Exam (TSE)?
Your testicles are the easiest to examine when the skin on the scrotum is loose. The skin usually slackens when you are relaxed, or you have a warm bath or shower. The examination can be done either standing up or lying down. Most doctors will examine you while you stand. Here is a step by step guide on how to perform a Testicular Self-Exam:
1.Take a firm grip of your penis and hold it away from your body.
2.Hold your testicle one at a time between your fingers and your thumb.
3.Roll each one gently between your fingers
4.Feel for any bumps, lumps, or accumulated fluid.
5.As you become more familiar with the process, you will start to get a sense of what feels normal and what is different. You should feel for changes in shape, size, and texture.
If you notice anything irregular, contact your doctor and make an appointment.
What is considered Normal?
In order to be able to identify irregularities, you need to know what is considered normal.
- One testicle may be slightly bigger than the other one.
- One side may hang a bit lower than the other testicle.
- The epididymis, the part of the testicle that stores the sperm may feel like a bump at the posterior upper or middle area of the testicles.
- You may feel a cord-like structure, the spermatic cord that carries the sperm.
What is considered abnormal?
- A testicle that appears to be large than the other.
- A hard lump
- Accumulated fluid around the testicle
- Tender lumps
- Dilated veins that feel like worms above the testicles
You should note that not all of the above abnormalities are cancer-related. However, if you do encounter these abnormalities, be sure to visit your doctor as soon as possible. A lump can be categorized by an ultrasound. This scan is completely painless.
If you are concerned or have questions about testicular cancer. Please make an appointment at our clinic today.