Testicular cancer is cancer that occurs in one or both testicles (testes). Testicles (a pouch of skin) are the male reproductive glands located underneath the penis.
Testes are responsible for sperm and testosterone hormone production. Testicular cancer can affect anyone who has testicles, including transgender and nonbinary people.
This disease mostly begins with changes in germ cells. These are the cells in the testicles that produce sperm. There are two main types of germ cell tumours that include seminomas and nonseminomas.
Usually, cancer affects only one testicle. The symptoms of testicular testicle include:
- Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- Mild pain in the abdomen or groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
- Back pain
In most cases, the main causes of testicular cancer are not clear. However, doctors believe that testicular cancer occurs when healthy cells in a testicle become altered.
Sometimes some cells develop abnormalities that cause this growth to get out of control – these cancer cells continue to divide even when new cells are not needed. The accumulation of cells forms a mass in the testicle.
Almost all testicular cancers begin in the germ cells, the cells in the testicles that produce immature sperm. Why germ cells become abnormal and develop into cancer is not known.
Usually, testicular cancer is diagnosed after the patient notices a lump or other change in a testicle. When an abnormality is suspected, the doctor performs an ultrasound to confirm whether there are abnormalities in the testicle.
If the ultrasound shows the evidence of cancer, the doctor performs surgery to remove the testicle and examine it under a microscope to see whether cancer is present and if so, what type of cancer. The doctor may use the following to diagnose testicular cancer:
- A physical exam and history
- A serum tumour marker test
- Inguinal orchiectomy and biopsy
- CT scans and X-rays
Surgical Treatment: This includes the removal of testicles and associated lymph nodes. Surgery might also be used to remove tumours from the lungs or liver if chemotherapy fails.
Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses X-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy might be used after surgery for patients with seminomas to prevent tumours from coming back.
Chemotherapy: This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy has improved the survival rate for people with both seminomas and non-seminomas.
Several factors contribute to the development of testicular cancer. This mainly includes the following:
An undescended testicle: The testes form in the abdominal area during fetal development and usually descend into the scrotum before childbirth. Men who have a testicle that never descended are at a greater risk to develop this disease.
Abnormal testicle development: Conditions such as Klinefelter that causes abnormality in the testicle may increase the risk of testicular cancer.
Family history: If any of your family members have had testicular cancer, you may have an increased risk to develop this disease.
Age: Age also plays a major factor in the development of testicular cancer. Research suggests testicular affects teens and younger men, especially between the age group of 15-35. However, it can occur at any age.