Paradoxically, this infrequent carcinoma within the male genitals is the number one cancer in men ages 20 to 34, which can also spread outside the testicles.
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Rare But Dangerous
Of all cancers, at 1 percent, testicular cancer is very rare. There are less than 20,000 cases per year reported in the United States. Paradoxically, this infrequent carcinoma within the male genitals that manufacture hormones and sperm is the number one cancer in men ages 20–34. With early detection, survival rate is over 90 percent.
Testicular Cancer Symptoms
Having a high survival rate, the most important question to you, perhaps, is how do you rule it out—or how is it detected early? The most common symptom is a lump on a testicle (differs from dermal bump). Swelling of the testicle (with or without pain) or a feeling of weight within the scrotum may be detected.
Carcinoma can also spread outside of the testicles. This can cause unusual abdominal discomfort. By means of the lymphatic system, pain can also be felt in your lower back. Coughing can produce shortness of breath. If it travels to the lymph nodes in your chest, nipples may feel tender.
It is fairly easy to check for lumps while cleaning up in the shower or bath. Regular examination allows you to detect subtle differences. Do not confuse a testicular lump with the epididymis—a convoluted duct behind either testicle.
Schedule an appointment with a urologist soon after a lump is discovered. A blood test is warranted. Ultrasound can help determine if the lump is solid or filled with fluid.
Treatment For Testicular Cancer
Treatment options depend upon the stage at which the tumor is discovered. Radiation, chemotherapy or radical orchiectomy (also called orchidectomy or testectomy). The latter removes the spermatic cord along with the testicle and tumor.
Testicular mass causes other than a testicular tumor need to be excluded before radical orchiectomy is performed. If you have orchiectomy due to cancer, your doctor may follow up with chemotherapy or radiation to lower the chances that any leftover cancer cells spread.
After treatment with radical orchiectomy and external-beam radiation therapy, the 5-year disease-free survival rate is 98 percent for stage I tumors and 92–94 percent for stage IIA tumors. For higher-stage disease that has been treated with radical orchiectomy followed by chemotherapy, the 5-year disease-free survival rate is 35–75 percent.
Certain treatments cause temporary or permanent infertility. If you are diagnosed with testicular cancer, but still want to have children, sperm banking prior to undergoing any treatment is recommended.
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