Testicles are a pair of reproductive organs that secretes testosterone and sperm. They are found well inside the scrotum which looks like a loose bag below the penis. Testicular cancer is the type of cancer that develops in the testes. Testicular cancer is very rare in occurrence but there are few such cases in the USA and often it develops in the age group of 15-35. This cancer can be fully cured unlike other cancer. Men can prevent testicular cancer by regular self examination of reproductive organs.
Testicular Cancer Symptoms :
It can cause heaviness in the scrotal bag region and lump can be formed in one of the testicles. The affected male can feel accumulation of fluid accompanied with mild pain in the scrotum. It can also cause dull pain in the groin. Lumps can be formed in both the testicles in some men. There can be discomfort or pain while having sex. For some men the breast may get enlarged and become tender due to testicular cancer. You should not delay in consulting your health care physician if you feel lumps and discomfort in the scrotum.
Testicular Cancer Causes :
Exact cause of testicular cancer is still not clear. Like many other types of cancer, this cancer also occurs due to uncontrolled growth of new cells when old cells do not die. There will not be enough space for the additional cells which forms a mass or lump inside the testes causing testicular cancer. There is no specific reason why some men develop testicular cancer and others not.
Risk Factors :
Men with abnormal growth of testicles (Klinefelter syndrome) and men with family history of testicular cancer and men with testicles that are not properly descended are at high risk of developing testicular cancer. Normally testicles would descend well inside the scrotum before the birth of the child but some men are born with undescended testicles. They are more prone to get this cancer than others. Men who are in the age group of 13-35 are at risk of getting testicular cancer and certain ethnic group like black men have increased chance for developing this cancer.
Testicular cancer can be easily diagnosed by self examination of the genitals. Your doctor may check the reproductive organs for any lumps or abnormal growth of the scrotum. He may order for ultrasound scan to get clear image of the testicles. He may also request for blood profile to know the level of tumor markers.
- Seminoma is a type of testicular cancer that occurs in elderly men.
- Nonseminoma cancer type develops in young men and it may spread quickly.
- In the first stage of testicular cancer, the cancer cells are confined to testicles.
- In the second stage it may spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
- In the final stage cancerous cells may move to other parts through bloodstream.
Testicular Cancer Treatment :
Treatment methods depend on your age, health condition and staging of cancer. Various approaches for treating testicular cancer are surgery, chemo and radiation therapy. Surgical methods include orchiectomy and retroperitoneal dissection of lymph nodes. In the first procedure, the entire testicles are removed from the body. Your surgeon may add an artificial saline filled testicle on that portion.
In the second approach wherein the cancer is in the second stage, the nearby lymph nodes that contain cancer cells are also removed along with affected testicle. Sometime, the nerves can get damaged during this surgery which can cause pain and discomfort while having sex.
- Radiation Treatment :
In this method, high energy beam of light is used to destroy cancer cells. This method is combined with other approaches or sometimes done after surgery.
- Chemotherapy :
Medications are used to destroy cancerous cells. It is given in the form of injection or as oral pills depending on the case. Both the methods have side effects which you can discuss with your doctor.
You cannot do anything to prevent testicular cancer, since its cause is not defined. But you can always identify when something goes wrong by doing regular self examination to feel the presence of lump in the scrotum.