Testicular cancer is a form of cancer that occurs in the testes, or testicles. It is estimated that this severe health complication affects around 8,000 to 10,000 men each year. It most commonly affects patients in the age group of 15-35 years.
Although rare its incidence has increased in the past few decades and is important to diagnose early as it affects the younger population more commonly.
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What is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer, which generally affects men between the ages of 15 and 35, is a form of cancer that originates in one or both testes or testicles. The male testes are the reproductive gonads located inside the scrotum that is the skin pouch located underneath the male sexual organ. Typically, Testicular cancer begins with changes in the germ cells that are responsible for producing sperm. It is best detected early by self-examination of gonads. It can be Seminomas Proliferation of only the seminomatous germ cells. It has one of the best prognosis of all the cancers or Non Seminomas such as Embryonal cell cancers, teratomas and yolk so tumors or choriocarcinomas or Mixed Germ Cell tumors or a mixture of all and any presentation. Usually, NSGCT need a more aggressive approach to treatment
Rarely NSGCTs present outside of the gonads and those are more aggressive
Risk Factors for testicular cancer
There are certain factors that may aggravate the risk of testicular cancer:
- An undescended testicle (cryptorchidism). During the stage of fetal development, the testes are formed in the abdominal region. Before birth, they generally descend into the scrotum. It is crucial to remember here that men with a never descended testicle are at a higher risk as compared to their counterparts whose testicles descended normally. The risk stays on the higher side even if the testicle was surgically relocated to the scrotum.
- Family history. If any of your family members have had a history of testicular cancer, you may face an increased risk.
- Abnormal testicle development.Health conditions that result in abnormal development of testicles, like Klinefelter syndrome, may increase the risk of testicular cancer.
- Race and Age.This form of cancer is more prevalent in white men (highest among men living in the United States and Europe) than in black men. Testicular cancer usually affects teenagers and younger men, especially those between ages 15 and 35. However, it may occur at any age.
Signs and Symptoms of Testicular cancer
Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- An enlargement or lump in either testicle
- Discomfort or pain in the scrotum or a testicle
- An abrupt fluid collection in the scrotum
- Tenderness or enlargement of the breasts
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, or lower back pain, Phlegm or bloody sputum in advanced stages of the cancers
If you are concerned about any changes experienced by you, it is highly recommended that you have an immediate word with your doctor.
Diagnostic Tests for Testicular Cancer?
The best to diagnose testicular mass in time is a self-examination of testes and examination by the physician
- Physical examination. Physical Examination helps in diagnosing testicular cancer Any hardness, swelling or mass, or loss of sensation by the patients is significant. Also, the neck, armpits, legs, groin, upper chest, and abdomen may be examined for any possible evidence of enlarged lymph nodes.
- Ultrasound. Than ultrasound for any possible sign of a solid tumor inside the testicle may be recommended
- Blood tests/tumor markers. Serum tumor marker levels are quantified before surgery for removing a testicle. Such markers include Alpha feto Protein, Beta HCG or Lactate Dehydrogenase
- High Inguinal Orchiectomy/surgical pathology tests. Radical inguinal orchiectomy is the first step in the treatment in case of a suspicious testicular mass
How is testicular cancer treated?
- Surgery: Testicular cancer surgery involves the removal of the cancerous testicle(s). The surgeon would perform Radical inguinal orchiectomy.
- Chemotherapy: The medical oncologist may recommend one or a combination of drugs such as Bleomycin, Gemcitabine, Cisplatin, Ifosfamide, or Vinblastine for chemotherapy.
- Radiation therapy: High-energy particles or x-rays may be used for destroying cancerous cells.
- Other forms of treatment: T Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) is major surgery for disease outside the gonads and may be needed after chemotherapy
- CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis Or FDG PET ( Positron Emission Tomography) CT scans of the whole body are needed for diagnosis or follow up
The general 5-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with localized testicular cancer is 99 percent. In other words, 99 percent of patients diagnosed with localized testicular cancer live for at least four to five years after diagnosis. The 5-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with regionalized testicular cancer (that has spread to nearby lymph nodes and tissues) is approximately 96 percent. The 5-year survival rates for patients diagnosed with distant testicular cancer and all SEER stages combined are 73 and 95 percent, respectively.
Testicular cancer is a rare but complicated medical condition that requires immediate medical intervention. Therefore, it is highly important that you select only an experienced and successful Urology Specialist Doctor in Delhi at The Urethra Clinic i.e. Dr Vikram Shah Batra. Remember, it is your health and life and they are precious.