Testicular cancer - malignant lesions of male gonads (testes), which is characterized by the unpredictable nature of growth and development of cancer cells.
Despite the fact that the statistics of testicular cancer diagnosed at less than 2% of the patients, due to its extreme aggression the disease is a major cause of cancer death in men up to 35 years old. Malignant tumor originates directly in the testicles and spreads though lymphogenous or hematopoietic pathways in the lungs, liver, bones and brain.
Testicular cancer has one of the highest cure rates between all cancers with approximately five-year survival rate of 95 %. However, the possibility to cure it will depend on how strong it has developed.
Causes of testicular cancer
The exact cause of this type of cancer is not identified, but there are connection with certain risk factors that contribute to its occurrence. Despite the existence of one or more of the following factors does not mean that the development of cancer is inevitable.
Risk factors for testicular cancer include:
- HIV infection
- Constitution of the body (the highest risk is observed in tall, thin men)
- Race (among people of white races risk of developing testicular cancer is 10 times higher than in African-American males)
- The presence of cancerous lesions in past
- Cryptorchidism (the absence of one or both testes from the scrotum). During development of fetal, the testicles develop in the child's abdomen, and during time of his birth, descend into the scrotum. Approximately, in 3% of the children, one or both testicles stay in the groin, and not descend into the scrotum. In 15% of men with cryptorchidism occurs testicular cancer.
- Some moles (nevi), located on the face, stomach, chest or back, are associated with an increased risk of the disease
- Profession/occupation of a man. Increased risk of malignant testicular tumors observed in firefighters, miners, workers in oil, gas and leather industry
- Family history. If the family of a man diagnosed with testicular cancer, the risk of his tumor significantly increased
- Age. Most often this malignancy develops in the age range 15 to 40 years
Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer
One of the first common symptoms is a lump or swelling and appearance of small tumor growths in the scrotum, with a simultaneous increase of seal tissue and organ. This swelling can be painless and cause some discomfort at the same time.
The following symptoms may also appear:
- Sharp pain in the lower abdomen or scrotum
- Breast enlargement (gynecomastia) from hormonal effects
- Low back pain if tumor spreads to the lymph nodes along the back
- Shortness of breath or coughing up blood
- A lump in the neck
- Decreased sex drive
Diagnosis of testicular cancer
For diagnosing testicular cancer doctor will analyze general men’s health and perform a physical exam. To confirm diagnosis he may advise several tests:
- Blood tests, which measure the levels of tumor markers (substance that can appear in higher than normal amounts when patient has a cancer). There are such tumor markers as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (bHCG) can identify testicular cancer even if it’s too small to be found by physical exam.
- Ultrasound test is realized by using high-frequency sound waves that bounced of internal organs.
- Biopsy – examination of testicular tissue under microscope by a pathologist.
Treatment of testicular cancer
There are three the most common methods of standard treatment:
- Surgery provides removal of testicle through an incision in the groin and called radical inguinal orchiectomy.
- Radiation therapy uses X-rays to kill cancer cells and tighten tumor.
- Chemotherapy is a way that uses anticancer drugs to kills cancer cells. Usually it is assigned to patients as adjuvant therapy, after surgery.
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