Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles. Testicles are located inside the scrotum, a loose bag of skin underneath the penis. These are responsible for making male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. Cancer usually only affects one testicle. This type of cancer is rare compared to others. It is most common in males between the ages of 15-35. Fortunately, testicular cancer is highly treatable.
- A lump or enlargement in either testicle
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
- Back pain
Cancer is caused when healthy cells develop abnormalities. This causes the cells to grow and divide out of control. All these extra cells form a mass in the testicle. Most of the testicular cancers begin in the germ cells which are cells that produce immature sperm. What causes these germ cells to become abnormal and form cancer is unknown.
The two main types of germ cells are Seminomas and Nonseminomas. Seminomas usually grow and spread more quickly. Nonseminomas tend to occur in men between their late 20s and early 30s.
- An undescended testicle (cryptorchidism)
- Abnormal testicle development
- Family history
Treatment options depend on the type of cancer you have, how developed it is, your overall health, and what you prefer.
Surgery to remove your testicle: This is the primary treatment for all types and stages of testicular cancer. In order to remove your testicle, an incision is made in your groin so that the entire testicle can be withdrawn from the opening.
Surgery to remove nearby lymph nodes: An incision is made in your abdomen so that the lymph nodes can be eliminated. The surgeon will try not to damage any nerves surrounding the lymph nodes, but sometimes harming the nerves is unavoidable.
Radiation Therapy: While laying on a table, a large machine aims high-powered energy beams at precise points on your body. This treatment option can be recommended after surgery. Side effects can include nausea, fatigue, skin redness, and irritation in you abdominal and groin areas. Radiation therapy can reduce sperm count and may affect fertility.
Chemotherapy: Drugs are used to kill the cancer cells.
There is no way to prevent testicular cancer. Some doctors may recommend testicular self-examinations so that cancer can be identified at its earliest stages.