The rate of testicular cancer among men has gone up significantly. Out of all men detected with testicular cancer about 4.8 % die each year. Thus, it is extremely important for men to be aware of the issues related to testicular cancer as timely identification of the disease in a person can help reduce risks.
What Is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is a disease that can affect any male after the onset of puberty. It affects men especially between the ages of 29-40. In testicular cancer, cells in one or both testes become cancerous or malignant and this generally leads to the formation of tumors.
Who Is More Prone To It?
There is no guarantee about who can develop testicular cancer but studies have shown that the chances of developing testicular cancer are increased in the following cases.
The risk of testicular cancer is higher in men who have family members who have been affected by this disease.
Cases Where The Testicle Has Not Descended
Just before birth the testicles are supposed to descend into the scrotum from the abdomen. In men with this condition there is a greater chance of testicular cancer although they may have had corrective surgery.
Men with abnormalities in their kidneys, testicles or penis are at risk. Even men with hernia are at risk.
Most of the symptoms are physically recognizable.
A lump or swelling in the testicle. Generally painless
Experiencing pain or discomfort in the testicular region.
A heavy feeling experienced in the scrotum
Pain or ache in the lower abdomen, groin or scrotum
Pain in the lower region of the back
Fluid accumulation in the scrotum that too quite suddenly
Testicle seems enlarged
Enlargement of breasts due to hormone fluctuation
Coughing or coughing up blood accompanied by shortness in breath.
In rare cases a lump in the neck is formed.
Remember to examine the testicles regularly if you feel you maybe more susceptible to testicular cancer due to your case history. Also, if detected in the early stages curing it is much easier.
To determine the cause and evaluate symptoms the doctor conducts various tests regarding your general health and even conducts a physical exam.
This is a good way to ensure the disease is testicular cancer. Blood tests help indicate the presence of testicular tumor even when it is too low to be detected by physical evaluations.
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Sound waves are used to create an image that is called a sonogram. The sonogram gives the doctor an idea of the shape and size of the testicles. If it is abnormal this may indicate testicular cancer.
This involves the microscopic examination of testicular tissue by a pathologist. This is one way to confirm testicular cancer before more tests are carried out.
What Are The Stages Of Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer develops in 3 stages and the size of the testes is irrelevant to the stage of the disease.
In stage one the testes are affected by the cancer.
In stage two the cancer is displaced from the testes to the lymph nodes below the diaphragm.
In stage three there is further displacement of the cancerous cells. This stage is further divided into the bulky and non-bulky stage.
The one good sign is that in 95 percent cases of testicular cancer can be cured. If detected in the early stages of the disease curing it is much easier and effective.
There are various factors taken into account while treating testicular cancer. It is first determined whether the cancer is seminomas or nonseminomas. In nonseminomas the cancer tends to grow and spread more rapidly while seminomas are more sensitive to radiation. Another thing taken into consideration before deciding the course of treatment is the stage of the disease. The treatment will generally include:
This surgery is called inguinal orchiectomy. It involves the removal of the testicle affected by cancerous cells. Only in very rare cases is a part of the functional testes left behind. This is because the part of the testes left behind could have pre-cancerous cells which again may lead to testicular cancer. Therefore, generally the entire testicle is removed. Since the other testes can continue functioning normally it is always preferable to remove the entire testis which has been affected by cancerous growth. In this surgery the testicle is removed by making an incision in the abdomen below the belt line and never from the scrotum.
Surgery could also be done on the lymph nodes in case of nonseminomas testicular cancer. This would help determine if the cancer is at the first or second stage. This surgery can also help to reduce damage, if any, caused by the displacement of cancerous cells to the lymph nodes. However, this approach is generally expensive and requires a lot more expertise and hence not preferred. Many men instead go in for surveillance, where no further surgery is carried out until it is indicated by tests that the cancer has spread or returned. As the accuracy of surveillance techniques increases this is preferred.
In radiotherapy cancer cells are killed to shrink tumors by the use of high energy rays. The radiation affects cancer cells only in the treated areas. In radiation therapy both cancerous and normal cells are affected.
Chemotherapy is a way of treatment in which anticancer drugs are used to kill cancerous cells. This treatment generally follows surgery to make sure remaining cancer cells are destroyed. The treatment in this case is systemic, i.e. delivered through the blood stream. Chemotherapy affects both normal and cancerous cells.
Side-Effects To The Treatment
The side-effects differ with the treatment given. With radiotherapy there is nausea, loss of appetite and even diarrhea. Sperm production also may be affected but this will be regained in a year or two. Fatigue is commonly experienced along with skin problems in the area where treatment was delivered.
With chemotherapy there can be fever, vomiting, diarrhea, rash and hair loss. Sperm count too may be affected but this can be regained over a period of time.
Testicular cancer is curable if detected at the right time, therefore, always conduct regular examination of the testicles. There is 95 percent chance of survival so do not feel it is the end of the world. With one functioning testicle you can still function normally. If you have concerns about fertility talk to your doctor. You can also take supplements for hormones and make sure to follow up after the treatment to make sure there is no recurrence of cancer. Testicular cancer in most patients is cured readily without any future recurrences so do not panic but be informed.
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