Testicular cancer is the formation of cancerous cells in the testicles. According to the American Cancer Society, it is commonly found in young and middle aged men. It is highly treatable, especially when it is detected at an early stage of development. Regular testicle exams are recommended.
Testicular cancer does not always produce symptoms. The most common symptoms is a mass or lump found in the testicles. Testicular cancer usually presents itself with a lump or mass in the scrotum. The mass is usually firm and can sometimes be painful. It is very important to talk to your doctor if you experience any pain or discomfort in the testicles or feel a lump during a self-exam.
While the cause of testicular cancer is not known, the following factors increase your risk:
- Age: Young men aged 18 to 35 are at the highest risk
- An undescended testicle, called cryptorchidism
- Klinefelter's Syndrome, where an extra X chromosome results in failure of the testicles
- Family or personal history of testicular cancer
- Race: Caucasian men are at higher risk
EVALUATION & DIAGNOSIS
After your history and physical examination, your provider may order an ultrasound to further evaluate the suspicious area. They may also order blood tests to check for tumor markers in order to further test for malignancies. If diagnosed, you will be staged to determine if the cancer has spread and to help determine the appropriate course of treatment.
The treatment of testicular cancer depends on the stage of the disease.
The treatment options are:
- Inguinal Testicle Removal: is the removal of the testicle and the spermatic cord
- Radiation Therapy: uses high energy x-rays to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells
- Chemotherapy: uses toxic drugs to destroy cancer cells
- Retroperitoneal Lymphadenectomy: surgery to remove lymph nodes to stage/cure/diagnose spread of testicular cancer
Most of the time, cancer is only found in one testicle, and the other testicle still works well. Removing one testicle should not cause erection problems (ED) or make a man unable to father children. In most cases, the healthy testicle that is left should be able to make all the testosterone the body needs.