Description of Testicular cancer
The cells of the testicles, i.e., the male reproductive organ begin to grow abnormally leading to testicular cancer. It is also termed as germ cell cancer. It is of two types, seminoma testicular cancer and non-seminoma testicular cancer.
Causes and Risk Factors
Incidence of testicular cancer is 1 in 263, mostly affecting the men of 15 to 39 years of age. The exact cause of testicular cancer is not known. Some of the factors that contribute to high risk of development of testicular cancer include,
1. Undescended testicles: Cryptorchidism is a condition when one or both testicles fail to descend from the abdomen into the scrotum before birth. The risk of testicular cancer is higher in men with undescended testicle(s).
2. Abnormal testicular development at birth increases the risk.
3. Strong family history of testicular cancer increases the risk.
4. HIV infection: Some studies prove that men affected by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) are at increased risk of testicular cancer.
5. Race: Risk of testicular cancer in white men is four to five times more than that in black men.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms may include one or more of the following:
1. Lump or swelling in the testicles
2. Breast growth (gynecomastia)
3. Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
4. Dull ache in the scrotum
5. Sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum
The nature of any observable lump in the scrotum is evaluated by ultrasonography followed by blood tests.
1. Lab tests: Blood test for certain tumor markers helps to diagnose testicular tumors. In testicular cancer, the level of tumor markers such as AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) and HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) might be elevated.
2. Imaging: Ultrasonography (USG) helps to determine the exact location, size, and nature of lump whether it is cystic or solid. If the lump is solid, it is more likely to be cancerous.
3. Scan: Through CT and PET scan determine whether cancer has spread to a region beyond testicles. These are done after the diagnosis of testicular cancer has been confirmed.
4. Biopsy: It is rarely done for testicular tumor as biopsy increases the risk of spreading this cancer.
5. Inguinal orchiectomy: It is done after most of the tests above point out towards possibility of a cancer.
The treatment option depends on age and overall health of the patient, type, size, and extent of spread of cancer cells.
1. Chemotherapy: It is an effective way to destroy cancer cells with the use of drugs in the form of pills, or injected into a vein or muscle.
2. Surgery: Depending on the extent of cancer, one or more of the following surgeries are performed.
a) Orchiectomy: It is surgical removal of affected testicle(s).
b) Inguinal orchiectomy: One or both the testicles along with full spermatic cord are surgically removed through a cut in the lower abdomen.
c) Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection: It is the removal of lymph nodes. It is mostly done for nonseminoma testicular cancer where cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the lower abdomen.
d) Radiation therapy: It is done to destroy cancer cells or slow their rate of growth. Radiation therapy is recommended to treat testicular cancer that have spread to lymph nodes.
Complication and When Should You See a Doctor
Treatment becomes complicated with the extent of spread of cancer. Complications may also be due to toxic side-effects of medicines used. Some of them are: lung and respiratory complications, heart and blood vessels toxicity, brain and nerves toxicity, toxicity to the ears, toxicity to the kidneys, fatigue, and fertility issues.
Consult your doctor if you detect any pain, fluid collection, discomfort, swelling or lump in testicles or groin area. Early diagnosis is the key to successful treatment of this cancer.
Frequently Asked Questions about Testicular cancer
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