Testicular cancer can cause physical and emotional problems for young men. Read this article to know more.
The testicle is an organ involved in the reproductive system. It is responsible for the production of male sexual hormones. The testicles also serve as a storehouse for the sperms. Testicles are two in number and may or may not be in equal size. Testicular cancer usually occurs on only one side of the testicles. Testicular cancer is a cancerous condition that can occur in the testicles. It is a very rare type of cancer. The good news about this cancer is that it is easily treatable, and the prognosis is also good.
During the entire lifetime, one out of 250 males are affected in the United States of America. The average age for the occurrence of testicular cancer is 33 years. In some rare instances, testicular cancer can affect young boys before they attain puberty. Testicular cancer can also affect males who are more than 55 years of age.
The most common type of testicular cancer starts with alterations in the germ cells. Germ cells are involved in the production of sperms. These cells are found in the testicles. The majority of testicular cancers are caused by abnormal proliferation in the germ cells. They are referred to as germ cell tumors. The two important types of germ cells tumor are:
Seminomas: Seminomas are a slow-growing testicular cancer. It is known to occur in the testis. Involvement of lymph nodes is noted.
Nonseminomas: Nonseminomas are the most common form of testicular cancer. It is a fast-growing condition, and it can spread to various parts of the body.
If the cancer is known to occur in the areas of the tissues where there is a production of the hormone, these tumors are referred to as gonadal stromal tumors.
The symptoms of testicular cancer involve the following.
A certain degree of heaviness or discomfort in the scrotum.
Enlargement of the nipples and breasts.
Severe pain in the testicles.
Dull pain in the groin and abdomen.
The scrotum has an abnormal collection of fluid.
Testicular cancer is caused by various causative factors. Doctors suggest that testicular cancer could occur due to the alteration in the healthy cells of the testicles. In order to maintain the proper function of the cells, it is necessary for them to grow and divide in a proper way. In some cases, there will be the development of abnormalities of the cells that might result in excessive growth and uncontrolled proliferation. These cells get accumulated in the form of a tumor in one or both the testicles. Environmental factors like exposure to toxic substances can also cause testicular cancer. This usually happens as an occupational hazard. In other cases, the causes of cancer are unpredictable.
The risk factors for testicular cancer are:
Family History: If any family members are affected by testicular cancer, you have an increased risk of being affected by the same condition.
Age: Teenage boys suffer a higher risk for testicular cancer. But this condition can affect any age group.
Fair-Skinned People: People who are fair-skinned reported a higher level of testicular cancer when compared with others.
Abnormal Development of Testicles: In some conditions like Klinefelter syndrome, improper development of the testicle occurs. This might contribute to the occurrence and increased level of risk for testicular cancer.
Cryptorchidism: It is a condition in which the testicles would not have descended. From the abdominal area, the testicles usually come down and form a scrotum during fetal development. This process should be complete before birth. Some men have a testicle that has not descended. These kinds of people suffer from an increased level of risk for testicular cancer.
HIV: Patients who are affected by the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can have a higher risk for testicular cancer.
Exposure to Pesticides: People who are working in chemical manufacturing industries, aircraft maintenance departments, and fire fighting have a higher level of pesticide exposure. This can increase the risk.
The diagnosis for testicular cancer requires both self-examination and clinical examination by the doctor. The various diagnostic tools that are helpful for identifying testicular cancer are:
Blood Test: Blood examination will help in determining the level of tumor markers in the blood. Tumor markers are known to be the substances that are seen in the blood under normal circumstances also. Any elevation in these levels might be an indication of testicular cancer.
Ultrasound: Ultrasound of the testicles can be done to visualize the tumor in the testicles and scrotum. Ultrasound helps in creating an image for the male reproductive organs. In this procedure, the patient is asked to lie on the back by keeping the legs spread. Then the doctor applies the special gel for visualizing the organs. The lungs can be identified as fluid or solid lungs with the help of an ultrasound procedure. The location of the lungs can also be identified.
Orchiectomy: Orchiectomy is a procedure to remove the testicles with the help of surgical options. A part of the testicle is removed, and the lump of tissue is determined to be a benign or malignant condition. Along with this information, the type of cancer is also identified.
CT Scan: Several X-ray images of organs are taken with the help of a CT scan. The staging of the cancer is usually done with the help of reports from a CT scan.
The various treatment options associated with testicular cancer are:
Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection: It is a surgery performed to remove the involved lymph nodes. This procedure requires an incision in the abdomen. Damages of the nerve should be avoided in this procedure. If any of the important nerves are damaged, then it might result in problems with ejaculation. The patient would not experience any issues related to erection.
Radical Inguinal Orchiectomy: For all types of testicular cancer, radical inguinal orchiectomy is recommended. After the removal, a prosthetic testicle can be fitted to the patient. They might be filled with saline.
The other treatment options for testicular cancer are chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
For more help, contact icliniq.com.
The signs and symptoms of testicular cancer are a painless lump and swelling in one or both testes, firmer testicle, numbness or heaviness in the scrotum, headache, fever, formation of blood clots in the blood vessels, confusion, pain in the lower back, and abdomen, chest pain, fatigue, malaise, breathlessness, varicocele, dark blue veins, fluid around the testicle, twisting of the testicle and sweating.
The signs and symptoms of testicular cancer are not evident during the initial stages. This cancer affects one or both testes silently and quickly, and the person concerned with testicular cancer may not know its presence and can be unknown for years. Symptoms usually appear at the later stages with pain and swelling around the testicular area, and some people will not identify the nature of the medical condition until the disease is in the advanced stages. This could be avoided by having regular testicular self-checks.
Testicular cancer in men spreads very quickly and quietly as the presence of the disease is unknown for years. The clinical symptoms are identified at late stages within that cancer spreads to distant parts of the body. At first, the spread of testicular cancer is to the lymph nodes around the kidneys (retroperitoneum). The spread to other parts of the body can be identified by symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, spitting of blood, lower back pain, enlargement of male breasts, and a lump in the neck.
Testicular cancer is curable at the early stages, and when it has reached the latter stages, it is difficult to treat. It spreads throughout the body during the advanced stage, such as the brain, lungs, liver, and bones, and it cannot be cured when it is aggressive and spreads beyond the testes. But 95% of testicular cancers are aggressive and can lead to death if it is untreated.
The different types of testicular cancers are seminomas, which are classical seminoma, spermatocytic seminoma, and nonseminomas, classified as embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac carcinoma, choriocarcinoma, teratoma. Out of that, choriocarcinoma is more aggressive and can be managed only by surgery because choriocarcinoma secretes human chorionic gonadotropin, which is resistant to radiation therapy.
A lump on the testicle is the most typical symptom of testicular cancer, and it is evident on the side or front of the testicle. It will be a painless lump on one or both the testes. The lump is firm and develops in the small tubes inside the testicle called seminiferous tubules or found under the skin. And this can lead to heaviness in the scrotum.
Small lumps on the testicle do not indicate testicular cancer and can appear due to many reasons where some are normal. Painful lumps can be due to any problem in the testes or sometimes a more serious medical condition. Lumps can occur due to any injury or can be benign or noncancerous.
Blood tests help to diagnose testicular cancer. Testicular cancer shows high levels of proteins in the blood, which are known as tumor markers. When the tumor markers such as alpha-fetoprotein levels (Alpha FP), human chorionic gonadotropin levels (HCG), lactate dihydrate hydrogenase levels (LDH) are diagnosed on the blood reports, it indicates the presence of testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer occurs in teens and younger men between 15 to 30 years of age. It is most common in men, and the average age of diagnosis is 35 years. The risk group is high in whites when compared to blacks.
Mainly for all types of testicular cancer of any stage, the testicle is removed. Testicular choriocarcinoma does not respond to chemotherapy or radiation therapy, so this type of testicular cancer requires surgery. If cancer has reached the brain, then surgery or radiation, or both should be performed.
Last reviewed at:
17 Feb 2021 - 4 min read
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