Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer arises in the testicles, the male sex gland that produces hormones and sperm. The testicles are located within the scrotum at the base of the penis. While there are three types of testicular cancer, germ-cell tumors, stromal tumors and secondary testicular cancer, over 90 percent of all cases are germ-cell tumors, according to the American Cancer Society.Germ-cell tumors begin in the same cells that produce sperm and are further subdivided into seminomas and nonseminomas. Treatment choices may depend on which type the patient has.

Risk Factors

  • Cryptorchidism, or undescended testicle(s), even if surgery amended the problem early on
  • Family History of testicular cancer
  • Klinefelter's Syndrome, a disorder that includes breast enlargement, sterility, low testosterone levels and small testicles
  • Irregular development of the testicles
  • Race/ethnicity may play a role. Caucasian men are more likely to develop testicular cancer.

Symptoms

Those who suffer from testicular cancer may experience a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Painless swelling or lumps in one of the testicles
  • Heavy feeling in the scrotum
  • Fluid collection in the scrotum
  • Pain or discomfort in scrotum or testicle
  • Dull ache in lower back, abdomen or groin

Detection and Diagnosis

A physical examwill be the first step taken by a patient. The physician feels the abdomen and testicles for swelling or lumps.An ultrasoundutilizes inaudible sound waves, which bounce off internal organs and create a picture, or sonogram, of the body.A blood test can detect certain substances in the bloodstream that indicate cancerous growth is occurring.
In a biopsy, the testicle in question is removed through surgery and examined under a microscope by a pathologist. If the patient has only one testicle, the surgeon will only remove part of the testicle.

X-rays, CAT scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) are used by physicians to detect cancerous growth by taking internal pictures of the body.

Treatment Options

Surgery removes the testicle or testicles with cancer. Lymph nodes may also be removed, depending on stage and extent of cancer. With one testicle remaining a man can still produce sperm, but if both are removed the man cannot. These patients who also wish to father children may opt to store frozen sperm before surgery. Prosthetic testicles appear and feel real and are often used to bar embarrassment or self-consciousness after surgery.

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells with intense x-rays aimed only at the cancerous growth, and for testicular cancer the beams are always emitted from a machine outside of the body aimed at the abdomen. Seminomas are particularly sensitive to this type of treatment. Side effects from radiation therapy include loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and problems with digestion.

Chemotherapy involves taking drugs that kill rapidly growing cells, thus noncancerous cells can be killed as well. Side effects vary by type of drug but in general, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, sores on the mouth and the lips and a lower resistance to infection are expected. Other side effects can include hearing loss, kidney, nerve, lung and small blood vessel damge. Drugs taken for testicular cancer can also cause kidney, nerve, lung, and small blood vessel damage as well as hearing loss.

Prognosis

While testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms of cancer, with a cure rate in excess of 90 percent, most types will spread if left unchecked, first invading and damaging the other testicle before metastasizing and being carried by the lymph nodes to other body organs, such as the lungs. Early detection and treatment are crucial to a favorable outcome.

This Draft Has Sidebar Blocks
Sidebar Block 1
Sidebar Block 2
Sidebar Block 3
Sidebar Block 4

 

The George Washington University Hospital is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Universal Health Services, Inc.(UHS), a King of Prussia, PA-based company, that is one of the largest healthcare management companies in the nation.         

The George Washington University Hospital
900 23rd St., NW
Washington, DC 20037
202-715-4000

PRIVACY POLICY / HIPAA STATEMENT / PHYSICIAN DISCLAIMER
© 2014 The George Washington University Hospital. All rights reserved.

Note:The information on this Web site is provided as general health guidelines and may not be applicable to your particular health condition. Your individual health status and any required medical treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider of your choice. Remember: There is no adequate substitution for a personal consultation with your physician. Neither The George Washington University Hospital , or any of their affiliates, nor any contributors shall have any liability for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided by this Web site.           

The information, content and artwork provided by this Web site is intended for non-commercial use by the reader. The reader is permitted to make one copy of the information displayed for his/her own non-commercial use. The making of additional copies is prohibited.