Understanding Testicular Cancer
Your testicles produce sperm and male sex hormones, so they play a vital role in reproduction. Testicular cancer tends to affect one testicle and mostly affects young adult men under the age of forty, but it can develop in any male. As with any type of cancer, testicular cancer can spread. However, when it's diagnosed early, treatment success rates are very high. It's not fully understood why some men develop testicular cancer, but risk factors include a family history of this type of cancer and abnormal testicle development. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for testicular cancer:
Symptoms of testicular cancer include scrotum pain or discomfort, a lump or swelling in the testicle and a build-up of fluid in the scrotum. You may also experience lower back or lower abdominal pain. Pain can be constant or intermittent, and some men with testicular cancer also experience unexplained fatigue and weight loss.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
Your doctor will make their diagnosis by taking details of your symptoms and conducting a thorough physical exam, which will include palpation of the testicles and the surrounding area. To confirm that a testicular lump is cancerous, you will have blood samples taken. Your blood will be checked for high levels of white cells and elevated inflammatory markers and tumour markers. Depending on the results of your blood tests, you may undergo a testicular ultrasound. A handheld ultrasound probe will be moved over your scrotum to allow your doctor to obtain images of the lump and surrounding tissue. They will be able to confirm how many lumps are present, the size and whether they are located inside or outside of the testicle.
Treatment for testicular cancer is dependent on the severity and stage of cancer, which will be determined from the ultrasound. Surgical removal of the affected testicle is often required, and you can opt to have a prosthetic testicle inserted if you would like. If cancerous cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes, these will also be removed through an abdominal incision. Surgery is sometimes the only treatment required, when testicular cancer is not diagnosed in the early stages, you may also require radiation therapy or chemotherapy. After treatment, most men are able to experience erections and ejaculations without any issues, but a small number of men who have had their lymph nodes removed may have difficulty with ejaculating due to damage to the surrounding nerves.
Men should examine their testicles regularly to check for lumps or changes in their size. If you have symptoms associated with testicular cancer, schedule an appointment with a men's health clinic.