Testicular Cancer is the cancer that starts in the testicles (the part of the male reproductive system that are normally a little smaller than a golf ball in adult males and are contained within a sac of skin called the scrotum).
Types of Testicular Cancer
More than 90% of Testicular Cancers develop in special cells known as germ cells ―the cells that make sperm―. The 2 main types of Germ Cell Tumors (GCTs) in men are:
- Seminomas: type that tend to grow and spread more slowly than non-seminomas. The 2 main subtypes of these tumors are classical (or typical) seminomas and spermatocytic seminomas (doctors can tell them apart by how they look under the microscope).
- Non-Seminomas: types of Germ Cell Tumors that usually occur in men between their late teens and early 30s. There are 4 main types of non-seminoma tumors, such as: Embryonal Carcinoma, Yolk Sac Carcinoma, Choriocarcinoma and Teratoma.
These 2 types occur about equally. Many Testicular Cancers contain both seminoma and non-seminoma cells. These mixed germ cell tumors are treated as non-seminomas because they grow and spread like non-seminomas.
By other way, there is other less common type of Testicular Cancer, such as:
- Stromal tumors: type that develops in the supportive and hormone-producing tissues, or stroma, of the testicles. These tumors are known as gonadal stromal tumors
It is important to distinguish between the different types of Testicular Cancers from one another because they differ in how they are treated and in their prognosis.
Scientists have found few risk factors that make someone more likely to develop Testicular Cancer (altought most boys and men with Testicular Cancer do not have any of the known risk factors).
Risk factors for Testicular Cancer include:
- An undescended testicle
- Family history of Testicular Cancer
- HIV infection
- Carcinoma in situ of the testicle
- Having had Testicular Cancer before
- Being of a certain race/ethnicity
- Body size
Signs and Symptoms
Main signs and symptoms of Testicular Cancer may include:
- Lump or swelling in the testicle
- Breast growth or soreness
- Early puberty in boys
By other way, there are other symptoms for Testicular Cancer that are more likely to be caused by something other than testicular cancer, such as:
- Low back pain
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, or a cough
- Belly pain
- Headaches or confusion
However, a number of non-cancerous conditions, such as testicle injury or inflammation, can cause symptoms similar to those of Testicular Cancer. Inflammation of the testicle (known as orchitis) and inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) can cause swelling and pain of the testicle. Both of these also can be caused by viral or bacterial infections.
When the tumour is still only in the testicle ―that means stage I― the 5-years survival rate is about 99%. In the case of being considered regional ―the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues― and therefore classified in stage II or III, 96 out of 100 people survive in the next 5 years. As long as it develops and spread to organs or lymph nodes away, this probability drops to 73%. This data shows us that this kind of cancer is not so lethal as other are, such as lung or pancreas cancer. Nevertheless, it should not be disregarded due to the harm it can represent to anyone’s health.
Testicular Cancer Diagnosis
PLEASE NOTE: EARLY DIAGNOSIS IN CANCER IS VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE CANCER THAT’S DIAGNOSED AT AN EARLY STAGE ―BEFORE IT’S HAD THE CHANCE TO GET TOO BIG OR SPREAD―, IS MORE LIKELY TO BE TREATED SUCCESSFULLY. IF THE CANCER HAS SPREAD, TREATMENT BECOMES MORE DIFFICULT, AND GENERALLY A PERSON’S CHANCES OF SURVIVING ARE MUCH LOWER.
State of the Art
Testicular Cancer is usually found as a result of symptoms that a person is having. It can also be found as a result of tests for another condition. Often the next step is an exam by a doctor.
The doctor will feel the testicles for swelling or tenderness and for the size and location of any lumps. The doctor will also examine your abdomen, lymph nodes, and other parts of your body carefully, looking for any possible signs of cancer spread. Often the results of the exam are normal aside from the testicles. If a lump or other sign of testicular cancer is found, testing is needed to look for the cause.
Most common diagnosis methods of Testicular Cancer are:
- Ultrasound of the testicles
- Blood tests for tumor markers
- Surgery to diagnose testicular cancer
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
As many other cancers, the sooner Testicular Cancer is found, the sooner you can start treatment and the more effective it is likely to be.
Nevertheless, some men with Testicular Cancer have no symptoms at all, and their cancer is found during medical testing for other conditions. Sometimes imaging tests done to find the cause of infertility can uncover a small Testicular Cancer.