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7 Facts About Testicular Cancer

Accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Can­cer Soci­ety, rough­ly 8,000 men will be diag­nosed with tes­tic­u­lar can­cer in the Unit­ed States this year. Tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is a rar­er form of can­cer, but instances have been on the rise. Luck­i­ly, if caught ear­ly, tes­tic­u­lar can­cer can be treat­ed successfully.

1. Tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is the most com­mon can­cer found in young men.

Tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is a malig­nan­cy that forms in one or both tes­ti­cles and is most com­mon­ly diag­nosed in males between 15 – 35 years of age, although it can still occur in old­er men. While it is the most com­mon form of can­cer in younger males, it only accounts for about 1 per­cent of all male cancers.

2. One of the main risk fac­tors for tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is an unde­scend­ed testicle.

An unde­scend­ed tes­ti­cle, a con­di­tion called cryp­torchidism, is when one or both tes­ti­cles fail to move into the scro­tum before birth. Those with this con­di­tion are sev­er­al times more like­ly to get tes­tic­u­lar can­cer. Cryp­torchidism occurs in about 3percent of boys; most of the time unde­scend­ed tes­ti­cles con­tin­ue to drop into the scro­tum dur­ing a child’s first year of life.

3. There are two main types of tes­tic­u­lar cancer.

The two main types of tes­tic­u­lar can­cer are semi­no­ma and non­semi­no­ma. Your physi­cian can tell what type of tes­tic­u­lar can­cer you have by look­ing at your blood cells under a micro­scope. Semi­no­ma typ­i­cal­ly occurs in men in their late teens to ear­ly 30s. Semi­no­ma tes­tic­u­lar can­cer grows and spreads slow­ly and is respon­sive to radi­a­tion treat­ment. Non­semi­no­ma typ­i­cal­ly occurs in men aged 25 to 45 and typ­i­cal­ly grows and spreads more rapid­ly. Both types of tes­tic­u­lar can­cer are high­ly treat­able and curable.

4. Tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is gen­er­al­ly found through self-exams.

A tes­tic­u­lar self-exam is an effec­tive way to notice any lumps, nod­ules or changes to your tes­ti­cles. A clin­i­cal tes­tic­u­lar exam should be per­formed by your pri­ma­ry care physi­cian dur­ing your annu­al well­ness check. It is nor­mal for there to be asym­me­try in tes­ti­cles; reg­u­lar self-exams will help you become famil­iar with your own anato­my and bet­ter able to rec­og­nize changes as they occur.

5. Some men have no symp­toms while oth­ers do.

Accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Can­cer Soci­ety some men with tes­tic­u­lar can­cer have no symp­toms, while oth­ers may have symp­toms such as:

  • A lump or swelling in the testicle
  • Breast growth and/​or soreness
  • Ear­ly puberty
  • Advanced symp­toms may include:
    • Low back pain
    • Chest pain and/​or short­ness of breath
    • Bel­ly pain
    • Headache/​confusion

6. The most com­mon ini­tial treat­ment for tes­tic­u­lar can­cer is surgery.

Surgery that removes the tes­ti­cle (orchiec­to­my) cures most patients. In cas­es where tumors have spread to oth­er areas of the body, can­cer can be par­tial­ly or entire­ly removed by surgery. After hav­ing surgery, some patients may need to under­go chemother­a­py or radi­a­tion treat­ment to kill any remain­ing can­cer cells. It is rec­om­mend­ed that patients con­tin­ue per­son­al sur­veil­lance through self-exam­i­na­tions to look for abnor­mal­i­ties after receiv­ing treatment.

7. A tes­tic­u­lar lump can be non-cancerous.

There are also non-can­cer­ous con­di­tions that may cause sim­i­lar symp­toms to tes­tic­u­lar can­cer. Your pri­ma­ry care physi­cian or urol­o­gist may rec­om­mend one or more of the fol­low­ing to con­firm a diagnosis:

  • Ultra­sound
  • Blood test
  • Orchiec­to­my (tes­ti­cle removal)

Be sure to sched­ule your year­ly exam with a pri­ma­ry care physi­cian, and per­form tes­tic­u­lar self-exams on a reg­u­lar basis. If you find some­thing abnor­mal, sched­ule an appoint­ment right away.