WHAT IS TESTICULAR CANCER?
Testicular cancer is cancer that begins in the testicles. The testicles are the two male reproductive organs that hang below the penis in a sac called the scrotum.
In adult males, each testicle is usually slightly smaller than a golf ball. The testicles produce hormones, mainly testosterone. They also produce the reproductive cells called sperm. There are different types of cells in each testis, each of which may lead to one or more types of cancer.
WHAT IS THE FREQUENCY OF THE DISEASE?
About 8,500 men in the United States will be diagnosed each year with cancer of the testicles. Overall, testicular cancer is not common. However, it is the leading cause of cancer in men in their twenties and thirties .
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF TESTICULAR CANCER?
We are not sure what causes testicular cancer. The rate of testicular cancer is slightly higher in white men and in the higher income groups.
But we do know some risk factors for testicular cancer. For example, cryptorchidism increases a person's risk for the disease. Also, a man who had a testicle cancer is more likely to suffer and in the other testicle. A man who has a family history has a slightly higher risk of developing testicular cancer.
If you have any of the risk factors for testicular cancer, talk with your doctor about the need for examination and frequent self-examination.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TESTICULAR CANCER?
Men with testicular cancer may not notice symptoms.
Symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- Palpable mass in the testicle.
- The swelling of the testicle.
- heaviness or pain in the scrotum or lower abdomen.
- Pain in the lower back may be a symptom of testicular cancer at later stages.
- If the cancer has spread to the lungs,you may experience shortness of breath, chest pain and cough.
HOW IS THE DIAGNOSIS MADE?
Symptoms above can be caused either by cancer or other less serious problems, such as inflammation of the testicle (orchitis) or the tissue surrounding the testicle through which sperm passes (epididymis). To find the cause of the signs or symptoms, the urologist will make a careful physical examination and will discuss the medical history.
The doctor may also refer you to one or more of the following procedures:
- Blood tests
If cancer is found it will take more tests.
These may include:
- Computed Tomography.
- Chest X-ray.
- Bone scans, and other tests may be done to look for metastasis.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?
Treatment for testicular cancer is initially orchiectomy with high ligation. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor. The surgery is almost always the first step in the treatment of testicular cancer.
Radiation therapy uses X-rays to kill cancer cells. Most often, the goal of radiation for testicular cancer is to kill cancer cells that have spread to lymph nodes.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer. It can be administered for the treatment of testicular cancer that has spread to other body parts.
WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS OF TESTICULAR CANCER?
The prognosis is usually very good. The testicular cancer, thanks to advances in chemotherapy, has become one curable form of cancer in over 95% of cases.
Even if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, there is still a big chance for cure and indeed much higher in comparison to other cancers.
WHAT NEW DEVELOPMENTS ARE THERE?
Researchers are trying to learn more about the changes in the DNA of cancerous testicular cells. Recent studies have helped doctors learn which patients may need surgery to lymph nodes or radiation and which are not. Studies have also shown how to determine which men may need more aggressive treatment. Doctors are studying the use of stem cell transplantation in the treatment of testicular cancer. This therapy allows men with poor prognosis havemore aggressive chemotherapy and then "rescued" with healthy cells to replenish their stem cells of bone marrow. New combinations of chemotherapy drugs are studied.
WHAT ARE THE CLINICAL TRIALS?
Clinical trials are studies of new kinds of treatment for cancer. Doctors conduct clinical trials to learn how well new treatments work and what effects they have. If they look promising, then compared with the current treatment to see if they work better or have fewer side effects.