Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men between the age of 15 and 35 years old, but can attack males of any age. Approximately 1 in 250 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with testicular cancer each year – that’s about 8,500 men. This cancer is not associated with any lifestyle, activity or diet, so there are no know preventive measures. It is more common in Caucasian males but can occur in any ethnicity.
Men usually notice the change in their testis themselves. Most have no pain and the only symptom is an enlargement of one or both testicles. Ten percent of men will notice a heaviness, pain or discomfort in a testicle. One testicle (usually the left side) is slightly larger in most men and is not a cause for concern. However, if you notice that your testicle is changing or is developing an irregular lump you should be seen by a medical professional in the next few days.
Sudden pain in the testis should be evaluated immediately. Sudden pain can be caused by a torsion of the testis, which requires treatment within hours to prevent loss of the testicle.
Abnormalities of the testicle are usually initially evaluated by ultrasound. This can usually be accomplished in Seward and is painless. If the ultrasound is concerning for testicular cancer, then further testing and evaluation including a chest x-ray and CT scan are usually required. An evaluation by a urological specialist is recommended.
Testicular cancer is treated by the surgical removal of the affected testicle. After the testicle is removed, the cell type of cancer is determined. There are two cell types of testicular cancer, the Seminoma and the Non-Seminomatous germ cell tumor. The Seminoma type is usually slower going, less likely to spread through the blood and more responsive to radiation treatment. The Non-Seminomatous germ cell tumor is more likely to spread to the liver, lungs and brain. It usually requires treatment with chemotherapy. The overall survival rate for testicular cancer is 95%.
Storage of sperm before any treatment is started can preserve the ability to have children after treatment.
Men who have completed treatment for their testicular cancer require close monitoring for the first two years with blood tests and radiology. Annual screening should continue after the first few years.
Call Seward Community Health Center at 224-2273 for an evaluation if you have any concerns.