Testicular cancer is a rare cancer and represents about 1% of all cancer affecting men. To date the actual cause of testicular cancer is unknown.
It usually presents in men between 15-35 years of age.
Testicular Cancer Risk Factors:
- Undescended testicle that remains intra-abdominal
- Family history
- Abnormal testicular development caused by genetic anomaly such as Klinefelter’s syndrome
- Caucasian are greater risk of developing testicular cancer
The most common sign of testicular cancer is the discovery of a lump within the testicle. Another common presentation is a rapid painless increase in the size of the testicle. On rare occasion testicular cancer may also present as a painless shrinkage of the testicle as well.
Cancer of the testicle often involves only one testicle on presentation.
Over the past decades, public awareness of testicular cancer has grown as prominent athletes and celebrities became afflicted by this disease. It has led to a public campaign to promote regular self-examination.
Testicular Cancer Self-Examination
A proper testicular self-examination should be performed during or after a bath or warm shower. The warmth from the water will relax the scrotum so that the testicles can be better palpated.
- Hold the penis out of the way and then visually inspect both testicles for symmetry
- Check each testicle by placing it between your thumb and fingers and gently press along the entire surface
- If a firm nodule or an irregular surface is detected then you make an appointment to see a urologist right away
If testicular cancer is detected early then it is highly curable.
The workup for testicular cancer involved a detailed history and thorough physical examination. If an abnormality is detected then a scrotal ultrasound and laboratory studies to check tumor markers specific to testicular cancer is obtained.
If findings are suspicious for testicular cancer then the patient will undergo surgical removal of the testicle (orchiectomy).
Testicular Cancer Types
The two main types of primary testicular cancer are as follow:
- Seminoma – Common in all age group but can develop in men but tend to occur in older men
- Nonseminoma – This tumor is more common in younger patients and there are several subtypes that can impact the prognosis. They include chroiocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, yolk sac tumor and or any combinations the subtypes listed.
After testicular cancer has been formally diagnosed, the patient will undergo staging. This usually includes a detail computerized tomography (CAT scan) of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. There will also be serial checks of tumor markers as well.
Depending on the type and stage of testicular cancer, patients may require further intervention including radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
Patients will also need long-term follow-up with their urologist and possibly oncologists as well.