Testicular Cancer: Treatment, Causes and Symptoms

Testicular cancer, though less common compared to other cancers, is a serious condition affecting men. This blog examines various aspects of testicular cancer including its causes, risk factors, occurrence, stages, and treatment options.

Causes and Risk Factors:

The exact cause of testicular cancer remains unknown. However, if you have the following factors, it might increase the risk:
  • Undescended testicles: When one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum before birth.
  • Family history: Suppose, your father or brother had testicular cancer, then it puts you at a slightly higher risk.
  • Exposure to Maternal hormones: According to studies, excess levels of estrogen in the mother’s womb are said to affect young men who are in their reproductive age.

Do Young Men Get Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer primarily affects young men between 15 and 49 years. This is because it often originates in germ cells i.e. those cells that are responsible for sperm production, which are most active during these years. It can even occur in middle aged men.

Occurrence Testicular Cancer in India:

Testicular cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer in men, accounting for approximately 1% i.e. 1 man per 1 Lakh population. The testicular cancer rates might be slightly lower in India compared to Western countries owing to limited statistics. Regardless, early detection remains crucial for successful treatment in India and worldwide.

Is Testicular Cancer Curable?

Yes, testicular cancer is highly curable, especially when detected early. Over 90% of cases are curable with proper treatment. Again the emphasis on early diagnosis could not be any lesser as it allows for less invasive treatment options, improving long-term outcomes. Final treatment depends on the stage of cancer at diagnosis.

Symptoms:

The most common symptom is a painless lump in one testicle. Other signs include:
  •  Pain & discomfort in testicle
  •  Swelling or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  •  Change in testicle size or firmness
  •  Dull ache in the lower abdomen or pelvic area
  • Tenderness or changes in breast tissue
Testicular cancer

Diagnosis:

Your Uro-oncology doctor will perform a physical examination and may recommend additional tests:
  • Ultrasound: Helps in getting a detailed image of the testicle
  • Biopsy: To confirm the presence and type of cancer cells
  • Testicular Cancer Blood Test: This helps in identifying tumor markers. Further, it might also measure alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels, which are sometimes increased in testicular cancer.

Stages of Testicular Cancer:

Testicular cancer is staged based on how far it has spread. Early detection is key. A smaller number of cuts on your body via surgery means early recovery. The stage of cancer decides the treatment plan. Stage I: Cancer is confined to the testicle. Stage II: Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the abdomen. Stage III: Cancer has spread to other organs like lungs, liver, or brain.

Treatment of Testicular Cancer:

  • Surgery: The most common treatment, often involving removal of the affected testicle (radical inguinal orchiectomy). In some cases, lymph node removal might be necessary.
  • Chemotherapy: Uses drugs to kill cancer cells, often used after surgery if there's a high risk of recurrence.
  • Radiation therapy: Uses targeted radiation to destroy cancer cells.
  • Observation: In some early-stage cases, monitoring may be an option.

Which doctor to seek for Testicular Cancer?

Uro-oncologists or Urologists can  treat testicular cancer patients. Following are the steps of treatment.   
  • Diagnosis and Staging: Uro-oncology doctors in our Bangalore branch perform a thorough physical examination and identify necessary tests like ultrasounds, blood tests, and biopsies to diagnose cancer and determine its stage. 
  • Treatment Planning: They will create a personalised treatment plan based on your specific stage, overall health, and individual needs.
  • Treatment Delivery and Monitoring: They oversee your treatment, whether it's surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or surveillance. They closely monitor your progress and adjust the plan as needed.
  • Side Effect Management: Testicular cancer treatments can have side effects like fatigue, nausea, and fertility issues. Your specialist will help manage these side effects to improve your quality of life during and after treatment.
  • Follow-up Care: After successful treatment, regular checkups are crucial to monitor for recurrence. Your specialist will create a follow-up plan to ensure your long-term health.

What if Testicular Cancer Symptoms occur again?

Following successful treatment, regular checkups are crucial. Reappearance of testicular cancer symptoms might include:
  • New lumps or swelling in the testicles
  • Persistent pain or discomfort
  • Back pain, shortness of breath, or cough (if cancer has spread)

What Happens if Left Untreated?

If an individual does not seek testicular cancer treatment, it can spread to lymph nodes and other organs like the lungs, liver, and brain. This can lead to serious complications and significantly decrease survival rates.

Conclusion: 

It is important to know that testicular cancer has a treatment and that the urology cancer specialists at NU Hospitals, Bengaluru are your partners in this fight.  The expertise and personalised approach of our uro-oncology specialist Dr. Vinod Kumar P  can significantly improve your treatment outcomes and overall well-being.  In case of any questions, contact us or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, X and Linkedin

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