What is testicular cancer?
What are the types of testicular cancer?
- Seminoma: A malignancy that primarily begins from the germ cells in the testes, affects persons in their 40s or 50s and is slow-growing
- Non-seminoma: These are also germ cell tumours but non-seminomatous and affect people in their late teens, early 20s, and early 30s. The four non-seminoma tumour varieties are embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac carcinoma, choriocarcinoma, and teratoma
Who can get testicular cancer?
The following factors increase a man’s risk of developing testicular cancer:
- Genetics: If you have a positive family history of testicular cancer
- Undescended testicles: This is a condition that occurs in the womb. Also called cryptorchidism, this is when a testicle does not descend from the abdomen
- Testicular germ cell neoplasia in-situ (GCNIS): Frequently observed while testing for infertility, these are abnormal cells that act as precursors to cancer cells
What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?
A painless lump in your testis is the most typical indicator of testicular cancer. Additional signs include –
- Sudden fluid buildup or swelling in your scrotum
- A growth or lump in one of the testicles
- Heaviness in your scrotum
- Dull pain in your lower abdomen or groin
- Intestinal or scrotal pain or discomfort
- An elongating testicle
What are the stages of testicular cancer?
Stage 0: In the testicles, where sperm cells first begin to mature, abnormal cells have formed. In situ germ cell neoplasia is another name for stage 0 (GCNIS)
Stage I: The cancer is limited to the testis, which may include lymph nodes or blood arteries. There could be increased tumour markers in this case
Stage II: Cancer has only reached the retroperitoneum or the lymph nodes in the back of your belly and has not spread farther. In contrast to stage II, stage III refers to cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes and is accompanied by moderately to severely increased tumour markers
Stage III: Cancer has metastasised, or spread, to an organ or lymph nodes outside of the abdomen
How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
The following common procedures and tests are used to diagnose testicular cancer:
- A physical examination and medical history: Your doctor will inquire about your symptoms and extensively examine you to look for signs of testicular cancer. They might check your lymph nodes and feel your testicles for lumps.
- Ultrasound: Your doctor will probably request an ultrasound if they discover an anomaly during the examination. A harmless medical treatment called an ultrasound uses powerful sound waves to produce images of the tissue inside your body.
- Inguinal orchiectomy and biopsy: If the ultrasound reveals signs of cancer, your doctor may perform this to remove the afflicted testicle through a groin incision. Your testicular tissue will be examined under a microscope by a specialist to look for cancer.
Other exams might involve:
- A serum tumour marker test analyses a blood sample to determine the concentrations of certain chemicals connected to particular cancer types. Tumour markers are these chemicals. The tumour markers alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG or beta-hHCG), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) are frequently increased in testicular cancer
- CT scans, X-rays, and MRIs: A CT scan, create images of the inside of your body using X-rays. To determine whether your cancer has progressed to your abdominal organs, your doctor may do a CT scan of your abdomen and pelvis. To determine whether cancer has spread to your lungs, they may need a CT scan or regular X-ray. You might be given an MRI if your doctor thinks your cancer has gone to your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). An MRI creates images of the interior of your body using radio waves and magnets
How is testicular cancer treated?
The treatment of testicular cancer is done in 3 ways:
- Radiation therapy
The following procedures are used to treat testicular cancer:
Testicle removal surgery: Radical inguinal orchiectomy is the medical term for this procedure. For the majority of testicular malignancies, it is the initial therapy. A genital incision is made by the surgeon to remove the testicle. The hole is used to draw out the testicle in its totality. If you want, a prosthetic testicle filled with gel can be placed. If cancer has not gone beyond the testicle, this may be the only therapy required
Surgical removal of lymph nodes: You may undergo surgery to remove a few lymph nodes if your cancer has progressed beyond your testicle. The surgeon cuts to remove the lymph nodes in the abdomen
Strong medications are used during chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy affects the entire body. Chemotherapy is frequently administered following surgery. Any remaining cancer cells in the body may be killed by this method. In cases where testicular cancer is highly advanced, chemotherapy may be administered first.
High-powered energy beams are used in radiation therapy to eliminate cancer cells. The radiation may originate from protons, X-rays, or other sources. You lie on a table during radiation therapy as a huge machine rotates around you. The equipment directs the energy beams at specific locations on your body. Seminoma testicular cancer is occasionally treated with radiation therapy. After your testicle is removed via surgery, radiation therapy might be advised.
This is a medical procedure that works with your body’s immune system to help it fight cancer cells. Your immune system fights off illnesses by destroying germs and other cells that shouldn’t be in your body. However, cancer cells avoid the immune system by hiding. Immunotherapy aids the immune system’s ability to identify and eliminate cancer cells. For advanced testicular cancer, immunotherapy is occasionally employed
Can testicular cancer be self-diagnosed?
Follow the below steps for self-examining your testicles –
1) Examine both testicles: Roll each testicle gently but forcefully between the forefingers and the thumb. The testicles should be equally stiff all around, although a slight difference in size is normal
2)Discover the epididymis and vas deferens. These are tender and tube-like structures above and behind the testicle. Sperm is collected and transported by these tubes. You can feel for these tubes as well during the self-examination
3) Keep an eye out for tumours, swollen areas, lumps or bumps, even if they are painless
4) Perform at least one self-check each month. Aim to look for changes in texture, size, or shape
Is it possible to recover from testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is treated successfully in 95% of instances, and the cure rate rises to 98% when treatment is started early.