What is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is a rare condition that happens when abnormal cells grow together in the male reproduction glands inside the scrotum (the pouch of skin beneath the penis) and form tumors. Cancer in the testicles can affect fertility.
Baptist Health is known for advanced, superior care for patients with cancer and the diagnosis, treatment and management of testicular cancer. You will appreciate timely appointments and a professional, friendly atmosphere where we take time to listen to your concerns. At Baptist Health, you have access to the region’s most comprehensive, multidisciplinary team of specialists and innovative therapies, including many available only through specialized clinical trials. In every way, we work to demonstrate the utmost in excellent care to those who trust us with their health.
Signs and Symptoms
Between regular checkups, it’s important that men do regular self-examinations to identify a tumor early. Symptoms of testicular cancer can include:
- A painless lump or enlargement in either testicle
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the abdomen, back or groin that does not go away
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in the scrotum or testicles that lasts for two weeks or longer
To diagnose testicular cancer, we ask questions about your medical history and do a physical exam. We then use advanced diagnostic procedures and technology to effectively diagnose, inform treatment and carefully monitor the condition. Diagnostic procedures can include:
Blood test: Blood tests check for certain proteins which can indicate testicular cancer.
Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the inside of the scrotum and testicles.
The cause of testicular cancer is unknown. Lifestyle factors that can contribute to the development of testicular cancer include:
Risk factors that can contribute to testicular cancer include:
Age: While testicular cancer can occur at any age, it typically affects teens and young men between the ages of 15 and 35.
Family history: Men with a family history of testicular cancer have a higher risk of developing the condition.
Race: Testicular cancer is more common in white men than in other races.
Undescended testicle: Men who have a testicle that did not descend before birth are at greater risk of testicular cancer in either testicle.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): Men with HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) are at higher risk of testicular cancer.
While some risk factors like age and family history cannot be controlled, there are ways you can help to prevent testicular cancer:
Don’t smoke: Smoking is a known cause of many cancers.
Testicular cancer is highly treatable. The earlier testicular cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome.
Treatment and Recovery
Testicular cancer treatment depends upon how far the condition has progressed and the man’s overall health. Sometimes, multiple types of treatments are necessary, including:
Surgery to treat testicular cancer can include removal of the testicle with cancer and the spermatic cord (called a radical inguinal orchiectomy) and or removal of lymph nodes may be recommended. If the testicle is removed, a saline-filled prosthetic can be inserted into the scrotum.
Recovery After Surgery
Depending upon how your body heals, you will be in the hospital one or two days after surgery to remove one or both testicles. It may be two to four weeks before you feel ready to resume normal activities. Removal of one testicle should not affect the ability to get an erection. If both testicles are removed, you may be prescribed hormones to increase your ability to get an erection.
Radiation uses high-energy radiation directed specifically to the testicles and lymph nodes to kill cancer cells. In some cases, the radiation can be done internally, applying a radioactive substance into or near the cancer.
Special drugs designed to kill cancer cells can be injected into the bloodstream.
Testicular cancer can recur and can spread to other parts of the body, so follow-up care after successful treatment is important. In addition, if both testicles and/or lymph nodes are removed, fertility may be affected.
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