Testicles (also called testes; a single testicle is called a testis) are part of the male reproductive system. The 2 organs are each normally a little smaller than a golf ball in adult males. They’re held within a sac of skin called the scrotum. The scrotum hangs under the base of the penis.
Testicles have the main functions of producing male hormones (androgens) such as testosterone and sperms, the male cells needed to fertilize a female egg cell to start a pregnancy.
Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles (testes). For Unknown reasons, the incidence of this cancer has increased since the turn of the century.
Compared with other types of cancer, Testicular cancer is rare. But it is most common in American males between the ages of 15 and 35.
It is highly treatable, even when cancer has spread beyond the testicle. Depending on the type and stage of testicular cancer, you may receive one of several treatments, or a combination.
Types: Germ cell tumors
The main types of germ cell tumors (GCTs) in the testicles are seminomas and non-seminomas. These types occur about equally. Many testicular cancers contain both seminoma and non-seminoma cells.
Non-seminomatous germ cell tumors are cancerous tumors which are often large and have a tendency to spread more quickly than the other type of germ cell tumor the seminoma type.
Seminomas are usually associated with a better prognosis than non-seminomatous germ cell tumors because most seminomas are radiosensitive, whereas non-seminomatous germ cell tumors are not. It is one of the most treatable and curable cancers, with a survival rate above 95% if discovered in early stages. About half of germ cell tumors of the testicles are seminomas.
It’s not clear what causes testicular cancer in most cases.
Sometimes some cells develop abnormalities, causing this growth to get out of control — these cancer cells continue dividing even when new cells aren’t needed. The accumulating cells form a mass in the testicle.
Nearly all testicular cancers begin in the germ cells — the cells in the testicles that produce immature sperm.
- A lump or enlargement in either testicle
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
- Back pain
Factors that may increase your risk of this cancer include:
- An undescended testicle (cryptorchidism).The testes form in the abdominal area during fetal development and usually descend into the scrotum before birth. Men who have a testicle that never descended are at greater risk of testicular cancer than are men whose testicles descended normally. The risk remains elevated even if the testicle has been surgically relocated to the scrotum.
Still, the majority of men who develop testicular cancer don’t have a history of undescended testicles.
- Abnormal testicle development.Conditions that cause testicles to develop abnormally, such as Klinefelter syndrome, may increase your risk of this cancer.
- Family history.If family members have had testicular cancer, you may have an increased risk.
- Testicular cancer affects teens and younger men, particularly those between ages 15 and 35. However, it can occur at any age.
- Testicular cancer is more common in white men than in black men.
- There’s no way to prevent testicular cancer.
- Some doctors recommend regular testicle self-examinations to identify it at its earliest stage. Discuss testicular self-examination with your doctor if you’re unsure about whether it’s right for you.
Surgery is performed by urologists; radiation therapy is administered by radiation oncologists; and chemotherapy is the work of medical oncologists. In most patients with testicular cancer, the disease is cured readily with minimal long-term morbidity. While treatment success depends on the stage, the average survival rate after five years is around 95%, and stage 1 cancer cases, if monitored properly, have essentially a 100% survival rate.
Moyo clinic, American Cancer Society, Wikipedia.
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