Testicular Cancer

Introduction
Testicular cancer begins with an unusual rate of cell growth in the testes. Cancer usually only occurs in only one of the testes, not both. Testicular cancer can involve different types of tumor cells, including the most common type, germ cell carcinoma, and other, uncommon forms of testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer is the most commonly occurring form of cancer in men ages 15-35, but it can appear at any age, but overall it is an extremely uncommon form of cancer, accounting for only 1%-2% of cancer cases in men.

Symptoms
The patient himself usually discovers signs of testicular cancer when he discovers a painless swelling, lump, or pain in one or both of his testicles. These are the most commonly occurring symptoms. Symptoms including a lasting ache in the testes, sensation of heaviness in the testes, significant shrinking of a testicle, a hardened testicle, or a dull ache in the pelvis or groin are less common but can still determine a case of testicular cancer.

Diagnosis
If you think you have symptoms of testicular cancer, your doctor will perform an evaluation to determine a diagnosis. A detailed medical history and physical exam will also be performed.

The next step is usually an ultrasound of the scrotum. Ultrasound is a non-invasive method of examining the male genitals. If the ultrasound reveals testicular cancer, other tests may be done to check for further spread of the disease. Blood tests containing tumor markers will determine the location and severity of the tumors.

Treatment
The most highly recommended treatment for testicular cancer cases is an orchiectomy, the surgical removal of the testicle and the attached cord. This treatment is standard for almost all cases of testicular cancer. The orchiectomy usually removes the cancer from the testes completely, but other means of additional therapy may be needed, depending on the tumor type.

Another treatment option is chemotherapy, the standard treatment for developed tumors. Radiation therapy is also offered for lower tumor stages.

Prognosis
Most men who undergo treatment for testicular cancer go on to live a cancer-free life and the treatment will likely have no effect on the patient’s ability to achieve erection and orgasm.

Survival rates for testicular cancer, like all cancers, depend on the stage and type of cancer. For more information on the cure rates for different types of cancer, consult your doctor. However, there is always a cure rate of >95% or more for patients with any type of testicular cancer.

Resources
The Testicular Cancer Information, Resource and Support Center
American Cancer Society – Testicular Cancer
National Cancer Institute – Testicular Cancer