Testicular cancer affects about 8,800 men each year. The percent of testis cancer deaths is highest among men aged 20-34. The disease is most prevalent in Caucasian men. Although it has a ninety-five percent success rate when caught early, testicular cancer is expected to kill close to four hundred people each year in the United States alone. Here are ten things every man should know about testicular cancer.
The best way to beat testicular cancer is by catching it early; therefore, it is important to know the signs. Symptoms of testicular cancer may include hardness, a lump or mass, or any irregularity that can be felt inside or outside of the testicle. Even if a mass or lump cannot be detected, you may notice a change in the shape, size or texture of the testicles. Regular examinations should be performed at home. Talk to your doctor as soon as you notice any physical changes.
6. Your Breasts May Swell
It may sound strange, but another symptom of testicular cancer is tenderness or swelling of the breasts along with discharge from the nipples. Testicular cancer produces a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is the same hormone responsible for making breasts grow. Although most testicular cancers are painless, you may notice other symptoms such as abdominal pain, back pain or coughing up blood if cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
5. Not All Irregularities Are Testicular Cancer
Although it is easy to spot a lump on your testicle and immediately think it is cancer, not all lumps or abnormalities are an indication. Heaviness in the testicles could be a sign of varicoceles, which is a condition characterized by enlarged veins affecting approximately ten to fifteen percent of all men. Although men with varicoceles have a forty-one percent lower sperm count than other men, the condition does not usually increase the risk of cancer.
4. Risk Factors
Having an undescended testicle is the biggest risk factor for developing testicular cancer. It occurs before birth when the testicle does not drop below the scrotum. The condition affects approximately four percent of baby boys in the United States and raises the risk of cancer by six to ten percent. Testicular cancer also tends to run in the family. White males are more affected than African American or Asian American men.
3. Checking For Cancer
According to Doctor Larry Lipschultz, Men’s Health urology advisor, men should check for cancer once a month by giving themselves self-examinations at home. Urologist Nicolas Cost of the University of Colorado suggests performing self-examinations in the shower where it is warm and easier to feel any abnormalities while your scrotum is relaxed. Check for smooth or rounded bumps, unusual changes in size or shape, and any hardness or irregular texture of each testicle.
2. What To Do If You Feel A Lump
The first thing to do if you notice a lump or abnormality is to schedule an appointment with your urologist immediately. Early detection is crucial for treating testicular cancer. If your doctor thinks it might be cancer, they will order a blood test and check for tumor markers, or proteins such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) that are created when cancer is present. You may then need an ultrasound. According to Doctor Darius Paduch at Weill Cornell Medical College, your doctor will not do a biopsy on any lumps because draining the mass could flow into lymph nodes where cancer could quickly spread.
1. Treatment Options
If cancer is detected early, surgery is the next step. Tumors measuring less than one centimeter with negative tumor markers are usually removed. In most cases, the testicle will need to be removed by a process called radical inguinal orchiectomy. To prevent cancer from spreading and to ensure all areas of the cancer is removed, surgeons will also take out any surrounding blood vessels, tissues, and lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation are also available to prevent recurrence.