As I was writing something recently on clinical updates, I came across one type of cancer that is not brought up very often, testicular cancer. I remembered the story a friend of mine shared about her husband, age 30-ish that had been complaining of pain in his testicular region ever since his young daughter jumped on him…OUCH!!
He went for a checkup and sure enough, he had testicular cancer. He underwent surgery, and did not need chemotherapy or other treatment as his cancer was contained in one testicle. This was many, many years ago, and he continues to enjoy his life and functions just fine without any complaints from his wife. We are in our 50s now, thank goodness that he went to get checked out.
Testicular cancer occurs mainly in Caucasian men between 20-39 years of age, but it can occur in men of any age and race. Most men find it themselves, either during a routine self-exam or by noticing unusual swelling. There may also be symptoms of pain or general illness, though this is uncommon. Some of the common signs of testicular cancer are:
- Any enlargement of a testicle.
- A significant loss of size in one of the testicles.
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen, back or in the groin.
- Pain of discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum.
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts.
The main risk factor for testicular cancer is a condition call cryptorichidism, or undescended testicles. This means that one or both testicles have not descended, at least partway, into the scrotum. Males with this condition are more likely to get testicular cancer than those with normally descended testicles, but the cause of most testicular cancers in unknown.
Testicular cancer is not common and has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers, with an average five-year survival rate of 97% if the cancer has not spread outside the testicle. There has not been a strong link noted between lifestyle and physical activities such as bike riding.
Learn more about testicular cancer and men’s health:
- Young men and the testicular cancer self-exam
- Health Awareness and Cancer Prevention for Men
- Fertility options for men with cancer
- Men’s Cancers
- Diagnosis and treatment of testicular cancer – U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Testicular Cancer Resource Center
- Testicular Cancer – American Cancer Society
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