What is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer compared to other urological cancers and is most common among young men. This type of cancer affects the testicles, which are two glands responsible for the production of male sex hormones and sperm that are located inside the scrotum, a loose bag of skin underneath the penis.
In general, there are two main types of testicular cancer:
- Seminoma. Which is the most common type, affects older men and tends to be less aggressive.
- Nonseminoma. Tends to develop in younger men and shows a more aggressive behavior. Includes tumors like choriocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, and yolk sac tumor.
Testicular Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer can be very unspecific. This condition usually affects only one testicle. Some of the signs and symptoms include:
- A lump sensation in your testicle
- Back pain
- A testicle enlargement
- Mild and unspecific pain in the lower portion of the abdomen or in the groin
- Pain and discomfort in the testicle
Testicular Cancer Common Causes
The main cause of testicle cancer remains unclear. However, it’s well-known that testicular cancer develops after some abnormal mutations occur in the germ cells of the testicles, which are the cells that produce the sperm and hormones. The tumor is formed after the cells become abnormal and develop an uncontrolled growth.
Some risk factors related to testicular cancer include:
- Cryptorchidism (Undescended testicle since childhood)
- Family history
- Abnormal testicular development
- Age is a factor – more common in young men
- Ethnicity – Testicular cancer is more common in white men
Testicular Cancer Diagnosis
Testicular cancer is generally starts after you or your doctor detects an abnormal lump in your testicle during a routine examination. In order to determine whether a lump is a testicular cancer or not, your doctor will recommend some of the following tests:
- Testicular ultrasound
- Blood tests. To determine the levels of tumor markers such as alpha-fetoprotein and beta-hCG
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
Testicular Cancer Treatment
Your testicular cancer treatment options depend on several factors, such as the type of tumor (either seminoma or nonseminoma), your tumor growth rate and the presence of metastasis at the moment of diagnosis. Some of the treatment options include:
Testicular Cancer Surgery
Surgery for testicular cancer involves removing your affected testicle (radical inguinal orchiectomy). In some testicular cancer cases, surgically removing your testicle may be the only treatment needed.
Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be recommended after surgically removing your testicles and is mostly used in case of seminoma.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill rapidly growing cells, including prostate cancer cells. This treatment option might be recommended after surgery and can also kill cancer cells that may have migrated from the original tumor to another locations.