Although testicular cancer is relatively rare, it is the most common cancer in American males aged between 15 and 35. Since this is the age where most males think that they are indestructible, it’s vital to know what to look for and what to do, if any abnormality is detected in the scrotum. The testicles are two organs that are normally a little smaller than a golf ball in adult men that are contained in a sac of skin called the scrotum. The function of testicles is to produce sperm and male hormones. A malignant growth or lump on the testicles is highly treatable when caught early.
As yet we don’t know what causes testicular cancer but it occurs when healthy cells develop abnormalities. What happens to make these cells become abnormal isn’t known. This is why it’s important for men to be aware that there are obvious signs to watch for that enable early treatment to achieve a cure.
At Premier Medical Group, our urology division has diagnosed and treated numerous cases of testicular cancer and these are what our urologists want you to know about the early warning signs, essential facts and steps that anyone experiencing them should take:
1. The importance of regular self-examination
Most boys and men receive a testicular exam when getting their physicals. However, it is advisable to perform a testicular self-exam (TSE) every month to become familiar with the size and shape of the testicles and to be sure that there are no unusual lumps or changes that can be signs of testicular cancer.
2. Warning signs of testicular cancer
The first sign that a man may notice of a testicular abnormality will be a lump or an enlargement of either testicle.
3. If located early, a testicular tumor may be about the size of a pea, but it can grow bigger.
There are other possible reasons for a lump or change in the scrotum and it can be benign, or possibly a hernia. This is why it’s essential to be examined by a doctor who specializes in the genital and urinary systems – a specialist called a urologist – if these signs or symptoms last longer than two weeks.
4. There are some other symptoms to watch out for:
- A sensation of heaviness in the scrotum
- An ache in the groin or abdomen
- Fluid collecting in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
- Back pain
5. What to do if you detect one of these signs
Any lump, enlargement, hardness, pain or tenderness should be evaluated by a urologist as soon as possible.
6. Confirming a diagnosis – consult a urologist
Take action as soon as you detect a reason for concern. Schedule an appointment with a urologist and don’t be afraid to talk about your problem, they deal with it every day and there’s no need to be embarrassed.
7. Your doctor will begin with a complete physical exam and history
The testicles will be examined for lumps, swelling, or pain. A testicular cancer diagnosis is usually confirmed with scrotal sonography,
8. Testicular cancer is highly treatable, and in many cases, curable
After performing scans and physical exams, your urologist will be able to advise you on what the suggested treatment will be. It may involve surgery to biopsy (remove a small piece of tissue from the lump) or possibly remove the lump or testicle. Follow up treatment may include radiation or chemotherapy to make sure all the cancer is gone
9. What is the long term survival rate for testicular cancer?
As with all diseases, the health of the individual and the stage at which the cancer was detected, and whether it has spread, will make a difference to long term survival. However, in general cure rates of testicular cancer are above 90%.
10. Will fertility be affected?
According to the American Cancer Society, testicular cancer or its treatment can make a man infertile (unable to father a child). Before treatment starts, men or boys who have gone through puberty, who might want to father children may consider storing sperm in a sperm bank for later use
If one testicle is left after treatment, fertility may return after testicular cancer has been treated. For example, fertility sometimes returns about 2 years after chemotherapy stops. Even when sperm counts in semen are very low, men have several options for fathering children. Be sure to discuss fertility concerns before treatment begins.
If you are concerned about testicular cancer, make an appointment with Premier Medical Group Urology Division
For more than 40 years, Premier Medical Group’s Urology Division has been known as leaders in comprehensive urological care. Each of our 13 urologists is trained in general urology as well as at least one subspecialty. We have our own pathology laboratory, radiology department and in-house CT scanner and ultrasound equipment. That gives our patients the reassurance of having most diagnostic tests performed in one place and getting fast and accurate results.
For anyone experiencing any abnormality of the urinary and genital systems, consult Premier Medical Group for answers and peace of mind. Click here to schedule an appointment.