Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Testicular Cancer

Cancer Types - Testicular Cancer

What are the testicles?

The testicles are the male sex glands and are part of the male reproductive system. Testicles are also called testes or gonads. They are located behind the penis in a pouch of skin called the scrotum.

The testicles produce sperm and several male hormones, including testosterone. The hormones control the development of the reproductive organs, as well as other male characteristics--body and facial hair, low voice, and wide shoulders.

What is testicular cancer?

Cancer that develops in a testicle is called testicular cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in the year 2012 about 8,590 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. An estimated 360 men will die of testicular cancer in the year 2012.

Testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms of cancer.

When testicular cancer spreads, the cancer cells are carried by blood or by lymph, an almost colorless fluid produced by tissues all over the body. The fluid passes through lymph nodes, which filter out bacteria and other abnormal substances such as cancer cells.

What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?

The following are the most common symptoms for testicular cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently:

The symptoms of testicular cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

What causes testicular cancer?

What is a risk factor?

A risk factor is anything that may increase a person's chance of developing a disease. It may be an activity, such as smoking, diet, family history, or many other things. Different diseases, including cancers, have different risk factors.

Although these factors can increase a person's risk, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some people with one or more risk factors never develop the disease, while others develop disease and have no known risk factors.

But, knowing your risk factors to any disease can help to guide you into the appropriate actions, including changing behaviors and being clinically monitored for the disease.

The exact cause of testicular cancer is not known. However, there are a number of factors that increase the risk for the disease.

What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?

The exact cause of this disease is unknown. However, research does show that some men are more likely than others to develop testicular cancer. Possible risk factors include the following:

Can testicular cancer be prevented?

Currently, there is no sure way to prevent the disease because:

However, testicular self-examination can improve the chances of finding a cancerous tumor early. Some doctors recommend doing them monthly, although it is not clear if they can reduce the death rate for testicular cancer.

Testicular self-examination (TSE) procedure

  • The best time for testicular self-examination is just after a warm bath or shower when the scrotal tissue is more relaxed.
  • While standing in front of a mirror, place the thumbs on the front side of the testicle and support it with the index and middle fingers of both hands.
  • Gently roll the testicle between the fingers and thumbs. Feel for lumps, hardness, or thickness. Compare the feelings in each testicle.
  • If you find a lump, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Testicular self examination is not a substitute for routine physical examinations by your doctor.

How is testicular cancer diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for testicular cancer may include the following:

When testicular tumors are present, the entire tumor, as well as the testicle and spermatic cord, is typically removed during the biopsy to prevent the spread of cancerous cells through the blood and lymph systems.

Staging of testicular cancer

Staging is the process of determining if and how far the cancer has spread. Treatment options are based on the results of staging. Procedures for determining stage include the following:

In addition to these imaging procedures, chest X-rays, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, or other scans may be requested.

Treatment for testicular cancer

Specific treatment for testicular cancer will be determined by your doctor based on:

There are several kinds of treatments for testicular cancer, including:

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