Testicular cancer is the development of malignant cells in one or both testicles. The main functions of the testicles are to produce hormones that control sexual development, reproduction and sperm production. At Great Lakes Cancer Care, we understand testicular cancer and what you’re going through if you’ve been diagnosed with it. We’re here to help.
As with all cancers, the best results come from early detection and treatment. The best way to discover testicular cancer is by finding it yourself when it is small. Symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- A painless lump or swelling in either testicle
- Enlargement or swelling of a testicle, or a change in the way it feels
- Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin
- Fluid or swelling in the scrotum, especially if it appears suddenly
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- Lower back pain
- Breast enlargement or discomfort
Note: Any of these symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your doctor.
A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of developing testicular cancer. While it is possible to develop testicular cancer without the risk factors listed below, the more you have, the greater your risk.
- Gender - This type of cancer only affects men.
- Age - Testicular cancer is most common in men between the ages of 20-35 years old. Testicular cancer can occur in older men, but the risk generally decreases with age.
- Ethnicity - Testicular cancer is more common in Caucasian men who live in the US and Europe.
- Medical Conditions - Medical conditions that increase your risk of testicular conditions include:
- Undescended testes
- Personal history of testicular cancer
- HIV infection
- Family history of testicular cancer
- Genetic disorders: Klinefelter syndrome, Down syndrome
After reviewing your symptoms, medical history and family history, your doctor will carefully examine the testicles and surrounding areas. If cancer is suspected, your doctor may recommend further testing, including:
Certain substances are released into the blood when a cancerous tumor develops. These markers, such as alpha fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), may be elevated in the presence of cancer.
Changes in the testicle(s) and nearby structures, including the presence of tumors, can be found with these tests. They can also assess tumor size and location. Imaging tests may include:
- Testicular ultrasound
- Chest x-ray
In this procedure, a testicle is removed and the tissue is examined under a microscope. This is the only way to confirm a diagnosis. Testicles with suspicious masses seen on ultrasound are usually completely removed via the groin rather than through the scrotum in order to minimize the potential for the spread of cancer cells. Once the testicle is removed and examined, the stage of cancer can be determined.
When treated, testicular cancer is one of the least dangerous cancers. Based on your age, general health and prognosis, our team will design a personalized treatment plan to remove as much of the cancer as possible, while preserving testicular function. Testicular cancer treatment includes a combination of:
- Radiation therapy