Testicular Cancer: What You Need to Know

Learn about testicular cancer symptoms, risk factors and treatments

(RxWiki News) Testicular cancer is somewhat rare, but it does happen and can be deadly in some cases. Inform yourself about this highly treatable disease to learn the symptoms, risk factors and treatments.

Around 9,500 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). An estimated 400 cases will be fatal.

Those numbers may sound scary, but a man's risk of dying from testicular cancer is only around 1 in 5,000, according to the ACS. Still, early identification and treatment of testicular cancer is extremely important. That's why it's time to learn the symptoms, risk factors and treatments for testicular cancer.

Symptoms

Testicular cancer affects the testicles, which produce male hormones and sperm. One of the major symptoms of testicular cancer is a lump or enlargement of one of the testicles. This lump or swelling is usually painless.

Other symptoms of testicular cancer include the following:

  • Back pain
  • A change in how the testicle feels (may include a discomfort or pain in the scrotum or testicle)
  • Tenderness or enlargement of the breasts
  • Sudden buildup of fluid in the scrotum
  • Dull ache or pain in the groin or stomach area
  • A heavy feeling in the scrotum

While there are some recognizable testicular cancer symptoms you can watch for, it's important to see your health care provider if you are concerned.

Risk Factors

While the cause of testicular cancer is unknown, some risk factors can indicate the level of risk a man faces. Having any of these risk factors is not a sure sign that you will get cancer. And you can still get cancer if you have no risk factors. Speak with your health care provider if you think you are at risk.

Testicular cancer risk factors include the following:

  • Age. Testicular cancer tends to affect young adult men, although it can happen at any age. This type of cancer is the most common cancer in men 20 to 35 years old.
  • Being white. This cancer affects white men more than black men, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Family history. Testicular cancer in any of your family members may mean you face a raised risk. This is especially true if a father or brother has a history of prostate cancer.
  • Problems with testicle development. Klinefelter syndrome and other conditions that cause abnormal testicle development may be linked to a higher risk of testicular cancer.
  • Undescended testicle. This condition, called cryptorchidism, may indicate an increased risk for testicular cancer. The testes typically descend into the scrotum before birth, but some men have a testicle that never descended from the abdomen. These men may face a higher risk.

Prevention

It is not possible to prevent this type of cancer. This is because many men with testicular cancer do not have any of the known risk factors. And the known risk factors cannot be changed.

Treatments

To determine whether you have testicular cancer, your health care provider may use a blood test or an imaging test called an ultrasound. In some cases, a surgery to remove the possibly cancerous testicle may be recommended. The removed testicle will be analyzed to determine whether the lump is indeed cancerous. As a result, the type of cancer can be determined.

The treatment will depend on a variety of factors, such as the type and stage of cancer, your overall health and individual preferences.

Surgery is one treatment option for certain kinds of testicular cancer. Depending on the type and stage of your cancer, your health care provider may remove a testicle or nearby lymph node.

Other treatments include radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to target and kill cancer cells, and chemotherapy, which uses powerful medications to kill cancer cells. Your health care provider will determine the safest and most effective treatment for your unique case.

It's important to note that some treatments for testicular cancer can cause infertility. Men who want to have children may want to consider using a sperm bank before treatment. Talk to your health care provider about this and any other concerns you may have.

Written by Digital Pharmacist Staff

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Review Date: 
July 8, 2019