- 2 Types
The testicles lie in the scrotum at the base of the penis. They are responsible for the production of male sex hormones and sperms. Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer occurring in American males between the ages of 15 to 35 years. Testicular cancer can be aggressive and spreading rapidly, but it is treatable.
Studies have shown that the risk of dying due to testicular cancer is about 1 in 5000.
To help diagnose testicular cancer, a series of radiological investigations and blood tests may be done to detect tumor markers in the blood. Testicular cancer often produces the tumor markers: alpha fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). AFP and hCG levels can also help monitor the progress of treatment.
What are the types of testicular cancer?
Most testicular cancers are germ cell (cells that produce sperm) tumors. The two main types of testicular cancer are
1. Seminomas, which grow and spread slowly. Its two subtypes are
- Classical seminoma: This is the most common and usually happens in men 25 to 45 years of age.
- Spermatocytic seminoma: Commonly occurs in older men and usually does not spread.
2. Nonseminomas, which grow and spread quickly. They usually consist of multiple types of cancer cells, including
- Embryonal carcinoma: Contains cells that look like cells from embryos under microscopic examination.
- Yolk sac carcinoma: These cancer cells look like the sac that surrounds the embryos. This usually occurs in children.
- Choriocarcinoma: Usually rare and spreads to the rest of the body quickly.
- Teratoma: A rare tumor that contains other tissue and organs, including teeth and hair.
What causes testicular cancer?
The exact cause of testicular cancer is unknown. Some factors increase the risk of testicular cancer, such as
- Age: Testicular cancer usually occurs between the age of 20 to 35 years.
- Undescended testes (cryptorchidism): Surgical correction of undescended testes before puberty reduces the risk of testicular cancer.
- Genetic conditions, such as Klinefelter syndrome, cause abnormal development of the testes
- Family history of testicular cancer
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?
The signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include
- A painless lump in the testicle
- The affected testicle feels firmer and harder than the other
- Dull ache in the scrotum or the groin
- Formation of blood clots in the blood vessels that can travel to the lungs causing chest pain and breathlessness
- Varicocele (swollen blood vessels), which appears as enlarged, dark blue veins
- Hydrocele (fluid around the testicle), which causes swelling
- Back pain
- Twisting of the testicle (torsion)
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How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
Self-examination can help in the early diagnosis and treatment. The affected testes are enlarged, firm and usually, painless. The physician performs a complete physical assessment followed by a sonography and blood markers.
How is testicular cancer treated?
The treatment may involve one or a combination of multiple treatment modalities, which depends on the extent of the disease.
The treatment options include
- Surgery: A suspicious mass on ultrasonography is often directed taken on the operation table for removal.
- Orchiectomy: Removal of the testicle. A prosthetic can be placed.
- Testes-sparing surgery (TSS): The tumor is carefully removed, and the healthy part is left behind. This is ideal for patients with small tumors, benign, or noncancerous tumors.
- Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection: Surgical removal of the lymph nodes to which the cancer has or may spread.
- Radiation therapy: This therapy targets cancerous cells, selectively kills them and shrinks tumors using radiation.
- Chemotherapy: The tumor cells are killed with cancer medication.
- Targeted therapy: This treatment uses medication to target certain genetic proteins or other changes in and around cancer cells.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Cancer Society. Testicular Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicular-cancer.html
Medline Plus. Testicular Cancer. https://medlineplus.gov/testicularcancer.html
Top Can Testicular Cancer Be Detected in Blood Tests? Related Articles
Can Testicular Cancer Kill You?Testicular cancer can be aggressive, growing and spreading rapidly. However, testicular cancer is highly treatable even after it spreads. Hence, the prognosis for men with testicular cancer is good because the disease can usually be treated successfully.
Cancer: Guide to Testicular CancerTesticular cancer is one of the most common cancers for men ages 15 to 35, but it's very treatable. WebMD explains when to see your doctor, what raises your odds of having it, and what treatments you can get.
How Do Doctors Test for Testicular Cancer?Diagnosing testicular cancer requires a thorough history and physical examination along with diagnostic testing. A diagnostic test can confirm or eliminate disease presence, monitor the disease progress or evaluate if the disease has spread to other parts of the body.
How Do They Test for Testicular Cancer?Testicular cancer develops when one of the many kinds of testicular cells multiply uncontrollably, forming a mass. Tests for testicular cancer include ultrasound, CT scan, blood tumor markers and biopsy.
Testicular CancerTesticular cancer symptoms include a painless lump or swelling in a testicle, testicle or scrotum pain, a dull ache in the abdomen, back, or groin, and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. Treatment for cancer of the testicles depends on the type of cancer (seminoma or nonseminoma), the stage of the cancer, and the patient's age and health.
What Is Usually the First Sign of Testicular Cancer?Testicular cancer is cancer that is mostly seen in young men. It can show different symptoms in different people. However, the most commonly reported symptom of testicular cancer is ‘a lump in the testis.’
What Is Usually the First Symptom of Testicular Cancer?The first signs and symptoms of testicular cancer are a painless lump in the testicular area, unusual firmness in the affected testis or dull aching in the scrotum or the groin.
What Are the Five Warning Signs of Testicular Cancer?Testicular cancer arises from the testes (a part of the male reproductive system). The testicles are responsible for the production of male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. Warning signs of testicular cancer include a testicular lump, aching in the groin, swelling, back pain, and infection.
What Is the Main Cause of Testicular Cancer?Like most types of cancer, it is difficult to identify the exact cause of testicular cancer. Testicular cancer may be caused by genetic mutations in the cell DNA. Studies are being conducted to learn how certain changes in a cell’s DNA can cause the cell to become cancerous.
What Tests Are Done to Diagnose Testicular Cancer?Testicular cancer is generally discovered in its early stages. It may be felt as a lump during self-examination of the testes or accidentally. It may be also observed as swollen or enlarged testes. In other cases, the doctor may find a lump in the testicle during a routine physical examination. Rarely, testicular cancer may not show any signs till it is advanced or spread to other sites in the body.