Testicular Cancer

Testicular Cancer: Symptoms and Treatment Image

Testicular cancer is a type of malignancy that develops in the tissues of one or both of the testicles. The testicles are the male reproductive organs that reside in the sac of skin called the scrotum, which is located under the penis. Testes produce sperm and testosterone, the male sex hormone.

Testicular cancer is relatively rare. According to the National Cancer Institute, there were 8,400 new cases and 380 deaths were reported in the United States in 2009. It is most common in men between 15 and 34 years of age.

Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

Often, men discover testicular cancer unintentionally or while performing a self-examination. However, only a doctor can confirm a testicular cancer diagnosis, since other factors — such as an injury to the groin — can result in similar symptoms. It’s important to understand that pain is not always associated with the tumor.

Testicular cancer symptoms include:

  • Dull ache in the back, lower abdomen or groin
  • Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • Lump or swelling in either testicle
  • Pain or discomfort in either testicle or the scrotum
  • Sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • Unexplained fatigue.

Testicular Cancer Diagnosis

A doctor can diagnose testicular cancer using several techniques. Tests include:

  • A biopsy, which samples testicular tissues to detect cancerous cells.
  • A blood test, which can detect abnormal levels of tumor markers, which increase in the body even before a tumor can be identified by a physical exam.
  • An ultrasound, which produces a picture of the soft tissue, so the origin of the abnormality can be determined.

Categorization and Staging of Testicular Cancer

Once a person has been diagnosed with testicular cancer, the doctor must determine the category and stage of the tumor. Testicular cancer can be categorized as either “seminoma” or “nonseminoma,” depending on the characteristics of the tumor. These types of tumors grow at different rates and require different treatments. Tests then determine the extent to which the tumor has spread. Stages include:

  • Stage I: The cancer has not spread outside the testicle.
  • Stage II: The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage III: The cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

Testicular Cancer Treatment Options

If detected early, this cancer is highly treatable and has a positive testicular cancer prognosis. Treatments for testicular cancer vary depending on the category and stage of the tumor. Several testicular cancer treatment methods include:

  • Chemotherapy drugs, which kill cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery (removal of the testicle and, in some cases, lymph nodes).

Resources

Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Testicular cancer. Retrieved January 12, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/testicular-cancer/DS00046.

National Cancer Institute Staff. (n.d.). Testicular cancer: Questions and answers. Retrieved January 12, 2010, from the National Cancer Institute Web site: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/sites-types/testicular.