Every April we raise awareness about a dangerous disease: Testicular cancer. So in honor of Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, we are answering some of the most-asked questions surrounding this disease.
What is testicular cancer?
Any cells in the body can become cancerous. Cancer occurs when the cells start growing out of control. Cancer that begins or originates in the testicles is termed testicular cancer. Testicles are part of the male reproductive system and are housed in the scrotum, which hangs beneath the base of the penis. Testicles produce male hormones (like testosterone) and make sperm (which fertilizes the female’s egg. More than 90 percent of testicular cancer starts in germ cells, the cells that make sperm.
How common is this disease?
Testicular cancer is actually very rare. Only about one in every 263 men will develop testicular cancer in their lifetimes. Also, only 8,850 new cases of testicular cancer will occur in 2017 and 410 men will die from this disease. When compared to other cancers, this disease is very uncommon and easily treatable.
What are the causes?
For the most part, no one knows what causes testicular cancer. Scientists have linked this cancer to several risk factors, including:
- Undescended testicle
- Family history
- Certain races or ethnicities
- Body size
- Carcinoma in situ of the testicle
Can this cancer be prevented?
Since most risk factors for testicular cancer can not be changed, it is almost impossible to prevent it. But there are ways to detect this cancer earlier. Men can perform a self-examination each month to check for any irregularities in their testicles. Here’s how to do it:
- Perform the self-exam after or during the shower when the scrotum is most relaxed.
- Move the penis out of the way and examine each testicle.
- Using both hands, hold the testicle between the thumbs and fingers, rolling slightly.
- Look for any hard lumps or irregularities in the testicle. If there are any changes in shape, size or consistency, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
There are signs and symptoms to look for. These include following:
- Lump or swelling in the testicle
- Breast tenderness or growth
A more advanced testicular cancer can show the following signs and symptoms.
- Headaches or confusion
- Lower back pain
- Belly pain
- Shortness of breath
How is testicular cancer treated?
Testicular cancer is easily treatable, meaning death only results in one in 5,000 cases. Depending on your specific case, your cancer team will determine the best course of action, from surgery to chemotherapy to radiation.
What happens after treatment?
After treatment is completed, doctors will watch the patient closely to ensure there isn’t a recurrence, which means that cancer doesn’t return. Follow-up care is extremely important to monitor the status of your body and health. Personally, cancer survivors should eat healthily and exercise. Leading a healthy life is important.
Have more questions about cancer? Contact us to set up an appointment.