What Every Guy Should Know About Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer usually occur in men between the ages of 20 and 34, but it can affect males of any age including infants and elderly men (Source: ACS). Testicular cancer is highly treatable, usually curable, especially if it is found early. Most testicular cancers can be cured, even if they are diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Cause and Prevention
Since the actual cause of testicular cancer is unknown, there is not a lot of evidence-based information about prevention. However, men can take steps to protect themselves. By learning to recognize the risk factors and the symptoms associated with this disease and by performing monthly testicular exams, many cases of testicular cancer can be detected and treated before spreading to other areas of the body.
A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease. The following is a list of risk factors for testicular cancer. Remember, many men develop this disease without having any of these risk factors. Likewise, men who have one or more of the risk factors may never develop this disease.
Testicular Cancer is most common:
- In men ages 20-34
- In white males
- In men with a history of testicular cancer
- In men with a history of undescended testicle
When testicular cancer is in its earliest stages there may be no symptoms present. When symptoms do occur, they can include:
- The most common sign of testicular cancer is a lump or swelling in the testicle that usually is not painful but may cause slight discomfort.
- Lump or swelling of a testicle
- A sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum
- Feeling of heaviness or aching in the lower stomach, back or groin
- Enlargement/tenderness of the breasts
- Shortness of breath, chest pain and/or cough
The earlier testicular cancer is found, the better the chances that it can be treated. It is recommended that men perform monthly testicular self-exams from puberty on through at least age 50, so that any abnormality can be promptly brought to a doctor's attention for early diagnosis and treatment.
Self examinations should be performed during or after a warm bath or shower when the skin of the scrotum is loose. Do it the same day every month so that it becomes a habit.
Gently roll each testicle between the thumb and fingers in an effort to find any hard, nonsensitive lumps. After showering, stand in front of a mirror and look for any swelling in the area of the groin or scrotum. If any lumps are found consult your doctor immediately.
If any symptoms or other factors suggest that testicular cancer may be present, one or more of the following medical procedures will be performed to diagnose and stage the cancer. (Staging indicates whether or not the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.)
- Medical History and Physical Exam
- Blood Tests
- CT Scan, Chest X-Ray, and Bone Scan
The choice of treatment depends on several factors: the type and stage of the cancer, the outlook for recovery and survival, and a person's overall physical health.
The three main treatments include:
- Surgery to remove testicle
- Radiation Therapy
If diagnosed and treated early, the majority of testicular cancer cases can be treated and cured. However, if left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and eventually cause death. Therefore, it is recommended that all males perform monthly testicular self-exams from puberty on through at least age 50.