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Symptoms and Treatments for Testicular Cancer

Symptoms and Treatments for Testicular Cancer

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Though testicular cancer is considered to be one of the more rare forms of cancerous diseases, it is in fact the most common form of cancer found in men between the ages of 15 and 35. On average, there are 20,000 diagnosed cases of testicular cancer each year. There are a variety of treatment options available, and testicular cancer can be effectively treated with a cure rate of nearly 95% for those who are diagnosed early enough. In this blog, we’ll review the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for testicular cancer.

What is Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer occurs within the testicles, which are located inside the scrotum below the penis. The testicles (testes) produce the male hormones and sperm necessary for human reproduction.

When the cells within the testes develop abnormalities, they begin to multiply at a high rate and eventually form a mass of cancer cells. Almost all cases of testicular cancer begin in the germ cells, which are responsible for the production of immature sperm. Likewise, testicular cancer most often occurs in only one testicle.

Risk Factors and Symptoms

There are several factors that may increase the risk of developing testicular cancer. The most common age group affected by this disease is men between 15-35. However, testicular cancer can still occur at any age. Men with testicular cancer in their family history are at higher risk of developing this form of cancer, and research has shown that white males are more likely to develop testicular cancer than any other ethnicity. Additional risk factors include those who have an undescended testicle (cryptorchidism), as well as any condition that causes testicles to develop in an abnormal way, such as Klinefelter syndrome.

Some common signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the scrotum
  • A noticeable lump in either testicle
  • Aching in the abdomen or groin area
  • A feeling of heaviness and/or sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • Back pain
  • Tenderness in the breasts

If any of these symptoms occur for longer than two weeks, it is recommended to consult a physician for proper diagnosis. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

When diagnosing testicular cancer, a physician will first discuss a patient’s health history before performing an examination of the scrotum and testes to see if there are any lumps, firmness or signs of swelling. The physician will do additional lab testing, utilizing ultrasound and blood testing methods to confirm the testicular cancer prognosis and to ensure the cancer hasn’t spread to the lungs, lymph nodes, or liver.

If the cancer is showing signs of growth, then there are several types of treatment that can be explored. The most common type of treatment is the surgical removal of the testicle and cancer mass, known as an orchiectomy. This surgery is performed in both early and late-stage cases of testicular cancer. Radiation treatment and chemotherapy are also options physicians may consider, as these treatments are typically utilized when the cancer has spread beyond the testes to other parts of the body.

Prevention and Self-Checking

While there is no current research that offers any concrete prevention tactics, it is important for men to regularly perform a self-exam at least once a month to ensure there are no signs of testicular cancer. A self-exam is best performed after getting out of a warm shower or bath, when the scrotum is relaxed. The self-check should be done while standing, and men are instructed to gently but firmly roll each testicle between the thumb and forefingers, checking for any lumps of feelings of pain. If you do feel a lump, or if you’re uncertain if you feel a lump, it’s best to get checked by a physician or contact UAM to schedule an appointment.

As long as these self-exams are performed regularly, men can stay on top of their testicular health and seek medical help if any signs are visible. With early diagnosis, testicular cancer is not only treatable - it could be beatable.

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