Testicular cancer is the most common cancer affecting males between ages 15 and 35.
Testicular cancer is most commonly found in teens and younger men. Fortunately, this type of cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, thanks to early detection methods, recent advances in surgery, as well as improvements to radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Statistics indicate that only 1 in 250 males will develop this cancer during their lifetime. In actuality, it is not a common cancer, and has a low death rate.
Symptoms of testicular cancer
Early diagnosis and treatment play a big part in making this type of cancer so treatable. One of the most effective ways to discover a lump is during a testicular self-examination. Discovering a lump or swelling in a testicle is one of the symptoms that young men should be aware of. Others include:
- A heavy, dull or achy feeling in the scrotum or lower belly.
- Rarely, individuals may notice soreness or growth in their breasts.
- Signs of early puberty in boys, such as a deeper voice or facial and body hair at an early age.
In cases where cancer has spread, individuals may experience:
- Lower back or stomach pain
- Problems with breathing—being short of breath
- Chest pains
Since this type of cancer is seldom painful, men should always see a urologist for an evaluation if they notice a mass or nodule in their testicles. With testicular cancer, early detection and treatment are the keys to survival.
Risk factors for testicular cancer
The most significant risk factor for testicular cancer is having an undescended testicle. Normally, the testicles descend or move down into the scrotum before birth, but in approximately 3 percent of newborns, the testicles remain in the abdomen or groin after birth. This condition usually corrects itself before age one. It can also be surgically corrected.
There are other risk factors associated with this cancer. However, having one of these is not a strong indicator that an individual will develop this cancer. These factors include:
- Family history of testicular cancer.
- Being infected with HIV or developing AIDS.
- Cancer in one testicle may make the other testicle at risk.
- Race—White males are 4 to 5 times more at risk than other races.
- Age—Males between the ages of 15 to 35 are most at risk. However, males at any age may be affected (from infants to the elderly).
Diagnosing testicular cancer
At Urology Austin, we begin our evaluation with a thorough personal and family medical history, along with a physical examination. If the provider finds anything suspicious, blood work will be ordered to screen for certain proteins. If these proteins are discovered, they can be measured to help determine the type and extent of testicular cancer that may be present.
Treating testicular cancer
If testicular cancer is diagnosed, imaging will be ordered including a CT scan of the abdomen/pelvis, and a chest X-ray. This imaging will help the urologist determine spread of the disease, and the best treatment plan. Treatment at Urology Austin involves the most advanced radiation and surgical techniques.
If you discover a lump during self-examination, contact the Urology Austin office nearest you as soon as possible.