As a testicular cancer, a malignant tumor or cancer is referred to, which can occur in the testis of a man of the germ cells. Clear causes that lead to testicular cancer have not yet been scientifically proven. Testicular cancer can usually be treated very well these days.
What is testicular cancer?
According to abbreviationfinder, testicular cancer is a malignant tumor that affects the male testicles. This develops from the same germ cells of the testicles from which the sperm also develop. About 95 percent of these tumors are malignant, but testicular cancer is a very rare form of cancer in men. Only about two percent of cancers in men involve testicular cancer.
This disease occurs most frequently between the ages of 20 and 40, with European men being affected much more frequently than men from Africa, for example. However, it is not yet clear why this is the case. Typical of testicular cancer is a hard swelling of the testicles, which is usually painless. You can taste these for yourself. Usually this also increases; however, the process takes place slowly for a long time. With this first, but clear sign, a doctor should always be consulted to rule out the disease.
Testicular cancer can also have other symptoms, such as decreased sexual desire, enlargement of the male breasts, or accumulation of watery fluid around the testicles. If the disease is already more advanced, problems such as back pain or shortness of breath can arise.
The causes of testicular cancer are still largely unexplained scientifically. Although testicular cancer is not hereditary, it can still be assumed that it is genetically predisposed. Testicular cancer also occurs more frequently in people who suffer from what is known as undescended testicles.
Normally, the testicle migrates from the abdominal cavity into the scrotum as early as embryonic age. However, this can be disturbed by certain factors and the testicles remain in the abdomen or the groin area – this condition is then also called undescended testicles and should be treated in an operation. Although this disease is easily curable, affected men have a significantly increased risk of developing testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer usually affects only one testicle. Men who have already had testicular cancer on one side are of course at risk of getting it on the other side of the testicle as well.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
There are a number of signs and symptoms of testicular cancer that are important to be aware of. The most common symptom is a nodular swelling or hardening of the testicles that can be felt from the outside and usually does not cause pain. In most cases, this symptom only occurs on one side and not on both testicles at the same time.
In addition, there may be other symptoms associated with testicular cancer. Many patients experience a vague feeling of heaviness in the testicles. As the disease progresses, pain can also occur, which is perceived as pulling on one side and often radiating into the groin area. Fluid can also accumulate in the testicles.
Because testicular cancer affects the production of the sex hormone testosterone, hormonal symptoms such as infertility or a decrease in libido, i.e. sexual desire, can also be signs. These signs also include unilateral or bilateral breast enlargement and pain in the mammary glands.
In the advanced stage of testicular cancer, metastases can cause other non-specific symptoms such as shortness of breath or back pain, depending on the affected body region.
Course of the disease
If testicular cancer is detected in good time, the course of the cancer is usually favorable, since surgery or therapy almost always leads to a cure. However, if the disease is not recognized until late and metastases may have already formed, the chance of recovery decreases considerably. Nevertheless, the chance of survival is also quite high here due to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Testicular cancer usually develops on one side. Only rarely are both halves of the testicles affected. Only if both testicles are affected and have to be removed with an operation is the patient no longer able to have children. If only one testicle is affected, nothing stands in the way of the affected person wishing to have children.
With early detection and appropriate treatment, the chances of recovery are very high. On the other hand, if testicular cancer is left untreated, it leads to death. The disease can lead to complications, especially in advanced stages. The symptoms get worse and the pain gets worse. In addition, the therapy can cause side effects.
As with any tumor, metastases can form, daughter tumors that spread to adjacent organs. These are usually associated with back pain and swelling of the lymph nodes in the adjacent body region. Other complications arise depending on the type of treatment. For example, if both testicles have to be removed, the male sex hormone must be artificially administered using medication.
This is not the case with unilateral removal, as there is still sufficient production. In addition, chemotherapy can have a detrimental effect on the entire body. In addition to hair loss, possible side effects include an increased susceptibility to infections and sensory disturbances.
Impotence can also occur if sperm production is impaired by chemotherapy. In many cases, fertility is only reduced for a certain period of time, but it can also persist under certain circumstances. Before treatment, the doctor will advise you on any risks that may arise and how to prevent them.
When should you go to the doctor?
A doctor’s visit is advisable if there is pain or swelling in the testicles. If the testicle enlarges for no apparent reason, it is cause for concern. Before taking painkillers, you should consult a doctor. In the case of sexual dysfunction, abnormalities when touched or a generally unpleasant feeling in the scrotum, a doctor’s check-up should take place.
If the skin becomes discolored or there are other changes to the skin in the intimate area, it is advisable to consult a doctor. If the person affected behaves abnormally, feels ill, fear or panic attacks, a doctor’s visit is necessary. If existing symptoms spread or increase in intensity, a medical examination must be initiated as soon as possible.
Abdominal pain, back pain or shortness of breath are warning signs of disease progression. Since the patient may die prematurely without medical treatment, a doctor must be consulted immediately. If there are unusual sensations in the intimate area during movement or if the person concerned suffers from a feeling of tightness, a doctor is required to clarify the perceptions. Feelings of shame and disgust as well as sudden conflicts between partners should see a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
There are various therapy options available for the treatment of testicular cancer. Surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy are all options. The choice of the appropriate treatment depends on the type of cancer or the stage at which the disease is.
In most cases, the affected testicle is surgically removed. However, this removal of the testicles together with the epididymis and spermatic cord has no effect on fertility and sexuality. Once this operation has been carried out, the so-called surveillance strategy is applied and the patient waits to see whether the cancer has been conquered. If this is not the case, radiotherapy or chemotherapy may follow.
Outlook & Forecast
The outlook and prognosis for existing testicular cancer depends very much on the time of diagnosis. The earlier testicular cancer is detected, the better the chances of a complete cure. Those who decide early on for appropriate treatment increase their chances of recovery considerably. In most cases, however, chemotherapy is essential.
Overall, testicular cancer is very curable and treatable. The survival rate is 96%, and medical treatment is essential. Otherwise, the chances of a full cure drop drastically. In the worst case, there is even a risk of death if the person concerned does not seek medical treatment at all. If not treated, the metastases multiply within a very short time, so that subsequent therapy is almost ineffective. In the further course, severe pain occurs, which can only be alleviated with appropriate medication.
In general, testicular cancer requires medical and drug treatment. Testicular cancer cannot be cured without such treatment.
Preventative measures against testicular cancer are not known to date. It is only important to see a doctor at the first sign, because the earlier testicular cancer is detected, the better the chances of recovery. In the early stages, the chance of recovery is almost 100 percent.
But even if the cancer is more advanced, the chances of recovery are usually quite good for this type of cancer. As the only preventive measure, men should regularly check their testicles for any changes. This applies in particular to men between the ages of 15 and 40, because testicular cancer occurs most frequently at this age.
Prevention through frequent sexual intercourse or masturbation has not been scientifically proven.
After treatment, close follow-up care for testicular cancer is essential. The doctor treating you will determine an individually tailored procedure for this. As a rule, the follow-up examinations take place at fixed intervals. In the first two years after completion of the therapy, the examinations are carried out every three months.
In the following year, the cycle is extended to four months, in the fourth and fifth year to half a year. Close controls are particularly important in so-called “wait-to-see” therapy in the early stages of the tumor. Regular checks ensure that possible renewed tumor formation is detected early and other secondary diseases can be ruled out. Follow-up examinations at longer intervals are sufficient five years after the end of therapy.
Here, too, the attending doctor decides individually on the individual case. The individual situation and the course of the disease are decisive here. The stage of the tumor at the time of diagnosis should also not be neglected. The most important examinations after the end of therapy include the general, comprehensive physical examinations.
The tumor marker in the blood is also regularly determined. Ultrasound examinations of the scrotum and X-rays of the lungs are standard in order to be able to detect possible new growths at an early stage. Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the abdomen is also recommended. The patient himself can also help to identify possible complications at an early stage through regular palpation.
You can do that yourself
Testicular cancer always requires medical treatment. The chances of recovery are very good here, although these can be further improved with the help of the affected patients.
Men should regularly check their testicles for changes. This improves the chances of detecting testicular cancer early with the high chance of keeping the testicles fully functional even after the therapy. Since the risk of testicular cancer is highest in early childhood undescended testicles or a family history, a self-examination should be carried out in these cases in particular. The testicles are palpated for lumps and swellings when showering or bathing. If, in addition, a feeling of heaviness or pulling as well as painful mammary glands occur, a doctor should be consulted urgently.
With early treatment, the cancer can be cured up to 95 percent completely. However, if the doctor is consulted too late, it is possible that one or even both testicles will have to be removed. If the family planning has not yet been completed, the semen can be deep-frozen in a sperm bank before chemotherapy and radiation, in consultation with the doctor, so that it can be used again later for artificial insemination. Furthermore, during radiotherapy and chemotherapy, condoms should be used during sexual intercourse to prevent the chemotherapeutic agents from entering the partner’s cervix.