What is testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer, also known as malignant neoplasm of the testis, is cancer in the male organs that make male hormones and sperm (testicles). It is the most common cancer in 20-35 year old men.

How does it occur?

Testicular cancer occurs when healthy cells in a testicle become altered. Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way to keep the body functioning normally. However, some cells sometimes develop abnormalities, causing this growth to get out of control- these cancer cells continue to divide even when new cells are not needed.

What are the symptoms?

Testicular cancer is often detected by the patient discovering a lump or swelling in a testicle. Other symptoms include testicular pain or discomfort, enlargement of the testicle(s), aches in the abdomen, back or groin, or a fluid collection in the scrotum.

Are there any risk factors?

Risk factors for testicular cancer include: personal history of testicular cancer, an undescended testicle, an abnormal development of the testicles, a family history of testicular cancer (in a father or brother), or being white.

Testicular cancer has four stages, form 0-III. Stage III is the most advanced cancer stage. Recurrent testicular cancer is cancer that has come back after treatment. Treatments vary depending on the type and stage of the cancer. Five types of standard treatments are used, namely: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, surveillance and high dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant. Follow up treatment is important because testicular cancer may recur. It is important to note however that testicular cancer treatment can cause infertility.

How to examine your testicles

Early detection is the key to curing testicular cancer. It is recommended that all men examine their testicles monthly after puberty. For self examination, these simple steps should be followed:

  • Check one testicle at a time
  • Rest one testicle on your pointer finger and middle finger; place your thumb on the top of the testicle
  • Gently roll the testicle in this light grip, feeling for any hard lumps
  • Also look for changes in size, shape or firmness. Healthy testicles feel soft and move freely. It is normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other.
  • Notice the epididymis, a coiled duct on the side of both testicles. This is where the sperm mature. The epididymis is connected to the spermatic cord, which can also be felt.
  • Check the other testicle too.

In a nutshell, statistics by the Testicular Cancer Foundation shows that one male is diagnosed every hour with, and one male dies everyday from testicular cancer. However, when detected early 99% of men diagnosed survive, all it takes is a simple, monthly self-examination.

What do I do if I suspect I may have it?

Visit your doctor the moment you notice anything strange about your testicles!

By Esenam Kasu

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