• Testicular Cancer is a cancer that tends to affect younger men, with the majority of men diagnosed with it in the 20 to 40 year old bracket.
• Testicular Cancer is one of the more rare forms of cancer with an estimated incidence of approximately 6.8 in every 100,000 men.
• Around 698 Australian men were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2007.
• More than half of the new diagnoses are in men under the age of 35.
• Cancer of the testis is the most curable of all internal cancers.
• The five-year relative survival rate for testicular cancer is at least 92.8% for all age groups under 60 years.
• Testicular cancer represents 0.1% of all cancer deaths. Nationally in 2007 there were 26 deaths related to testicular cancer.
What is testicular cancer?
Cancer begins when cells in a part of the body begin to grow abnormally. These cancer cells can invade other tissue, and in most cases form a tumor. When cancer gets into the bloodstream or lymph vessels, they can travel to other parts of the body. There they begin to grow and form new tumors; this process is called metastasis.
Cancer that develops in one or both testicles is called testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer commonly presents as a small hard lump, a swelling, a change in the consistency of the testicle or there may be a dull ache in the testicle or lower abdomen. In the majority of cases only one testicle is affected. Men, regardless of age, who find such an abnormality should not assume they have cancer. Many conditions other than cancer cause changes in the testicles.
There are 3 types of testicular cancer tumors: Germ cell, stromal, and secondary testicular tumors.
• Germ cell tumors are the most commonly diagnosed; they begin in the cells that make sperm.
• Stromal tumors start in the cells that make hormones and the cells that support the cells that make sperm.
• Secondary testicular tumors are from cancer that has spread to the testicles from other parts of the body.
For more detailed information about these types of tumors, please visit the ACS’s website
Who gets testicular cancer?
While testicular cancer can affect men of any age, it tends to affect younger men, with the majority of men diagnosed with it in the 20 to 40 year old bracket.
Risks of testicular cancer
There is no known cause for testicular cancer, but there are some risk factors all men should be aware of. These include:
• Having an undescended testis when you were born
• A history of testicular cancer in the family such as a father or brother and having previously had testicular cancer.
• Having had certain viral infections such as mumps.
• Race can also influence the risk of prostate cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?
According to the Cancer Council Australia, men should become familiar with the usual level of lumpiness of their testicles and to see their doctor if they notice a change.
A hard lump in either testis is the usual symptom of testicular cancer. This can be painful or tender in about 1 in 10 men. In a few men, constant backache, coughing or breathlessness, and enlarged or tender nipples may also mean that the cancer has spread.
Regular self-examination of the testes to check for lumps or swelling is important for young men, particularly those at risk of testicular cancer. Click here
for more information on conducting monthly self-exams.
A man noticing a hard lump or any change in the testes should see his local doctor straight away, who may then give a referral to a urologist (specialist).
It is also recommended to have a testicular exam by your doctor as part of your routine check up. It’s important to see a doctor about any testicular symptoms that bother you. Don’t wait. If diagnosed with testicular cancer, here
is a comprehensive list from the ACS of questions you can ask your doctor.
Treatment of Testicular Cancer
If diagnosed with testicular cancer, the most important step is to talk at length with your doctor about your treatment choices.
In choosing a treatment plan, factors such as your overall health and the type and stage of the cancer should be considered. You may want to get a second or third doctor’s opinion.
The treatment options for testicular cancer depend on the type and stage of cancer. An orchidectomy (surgical removal of the affected testis) is the first stage of treatment for all suspected cases of testicular cancer. An orchidectomy is done under general anaesthetic. The removed testis is then sent to a pathology laboratory to confirm the stage and type of cancer. Chemotherapy or radiotherapy are often given after surgery to kill off any cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body. The level or amount of chemotherapy and radiotherapy will be different for each man and will depend on the stage and type of cancer. Andrology Australia has more detailed information on treatment options by stage on their website
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