Testicular cancer is one of the more treatable forms of cancer, but unfortunately, it still affects thousands of people each year. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, there are over 8,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States every year. As a man who wants to be proactive about his health, you need to know these facts about testicular cancer.
What is testicular cancer?
Every year, thousands of men are diagnosed with testicular cancer, which is caused by abnormal cells in one or both testicles. Although most cases are treatable, there are some risks associated with developing it—especially when you’re younger. In fact, many men who develop testicular cancer in their 20s die from it before they turn 35. Find out more about what causes and risk factors for testicular cancer—and what you can do to prevent it—with these 10 facts that every man should know.
*Men under age 30: Men between ages 15 and 29 have a 1-in-333 chance of being diagnosed with testicular cancer each year.
What causes it?
The most common cause of testicular cancer is a type of germ cell tumor called germ cell tumor. Other types of tumors can also form in or around your testicles, but they are less common. The exact cause of these cancers is unknown, but there are certain factors that make some men more likely to develop them than others. Men who have an undescended testicle (where it doesn’t move down into its normal position in the scrotum) have an increased risk of developing cancer, as do those with a family history of testicular cancer. And while it’s not clear why white men and those over age 60 are at higher risk for developing these tumors than other groups.
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How do I recognise it?
The symptoms of testicular cancer may include a painless lump or swelling on or near one or both testicles, a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum, an ache in your lower abdomen, and changes in your urinary habits. However, most men who have testicular cancer do not have any symptoms at all! These can be caused by other conditions, so it is important that you get yourself checked by a doctor if you notice anything unusual.
Your GP will carry out a physical examination and order some blood tests and possibly an ultrasound scan. If they suspect testicular cancer, they will refer you to a specialist for further investigation. The main types of investigations are CT (computerised tomography) scans and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). They can give detailed information about what is going on inside your body without having to carry out surgery – saving time and reducing complications from surgery.
Who can get it?
Though rare, testicular cancer can affect anyone. It’s most common in men aged 20-34, and is more common in white men than in black or Hispanic men.
Who gets it?
Testicular cancer is most common in men aged 20–35. But testicular cancer can affect people of all ages, and it can even occur in women. If you’re at high risk for testicular cancer because of family history, talk with your doctor about how often you should get screened—and at what age. He or she may suggest an ultrasound scan every year from around age 18 on.
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It’s also important to have regular checkups if you have undescended testicles (testicles that haven’t dropped into place by puberty). Men who have had testicular cancer are more likely than other men to develop another type of cancer later in life. So if you have had testicular cancer, see your doctor regularly so he or she can watch for signs of new cancers as well as treat any problems that arise.
Does having had mumps as a child mean I am at higher risk of getting testicular cancer?
Mumps is generally a mild viral infection, but in rare cases, it can cause complications such as orchitis (inflammation of one or both testicles). The connection between mumps and testicular cancer isn’t clear, though there have been studies that have found an association. What we do know is that most men who have had mumps as children will not develop testicular cancer later in life.
What tests are used to diagnose testicular cancer?
Doctors typically use a combination of blood tests, imaging scans and physical examinations to diagnose testicular cancer. Your doctor will likely check for a tumor marker called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) that is produced by testicular tumors. He or she may also order an ultrasound or CT scan of your abdomen/pelvis and chest, as well as a chest X-ray, biopsy of your testicles and/or lymph nodes, and/or MRI of your pelvis.
How is it treated?
Although testicular cancer is not often deadly, it does require treatment. Surgery is often used in a process called orchiectomy; during surgery, doctors remove one or both testicles from your body. Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, may also be an option for men who have an early-stage disease that affects only one testicle. In some cases of early-stage disease, hormone therapy may be an option in place of radiation.
Can it be cured?
The good news is that testicular cancer is highly curable. If detected early, a man’s lifetime risk of dying from testicular cancer is less than 1%. There are several types of testicular cancer, including seminoma and nonseminoma. Seminomas account for 75% of all cases. They are more sensitive to radiation therapy, but if found at an early stage when no nodes have spread, they can be cured with surgery alone.
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What are the risks of not treating it?
If left untreated, testicular cancer can be fatal. If you’re a male between 15 and 35 years old, you should examine your testicles every month for any unusual lumps or changes in size. Testicle cancer usually appears as a painless lump; it’s also common for men with testicular cancer to experience back pain caused by an internal buildup of fluid in one or both of their kidneys.
Home Remedies for testicular cancer
There are a number of home remedies you can use for treating testicular cancer, such as castor oil, onion juice, and garlic. However, since some of these remedies have not been scientifically proven effective in treating cancer symptoms, it is best that you discuss them with your doctor first before trying them out. For example, castor oil has been known to reduce inflammation in certain organs, but its effects on testicular cancer are still being studied. In addition, if you decide to try any home remedy for the treatment of your condition, do so under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.
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