Testicular Cancer

The testicles are male sex organs that produce sperm and testosterone hormone (responsible for male sexual development). Testicular cancer is a very rare form of cancer, generally affecting men between the ages of 15 to 44 years.

The exact cause of testicular cancer is not very clear, but factors that may increase the risk of testicular cancer are:

  • Undescended testicles (testicles fail to descend into the scrotum after birth) or abnormal development of the testicles
  • Family history
  • Infertility
  • Endocrine disruptors (chemicals used in pesticides, cosmetics, etc.)
  • Smoking
  • AIDS

Symptoms may or may not manifest. Symptoms of testicular cancer may include pain in the testicles, back and the lower abdominal area, feeling of discomfort and heaviness in the scrotum, development of breast tissue, increase in size of the testicles, or lump or swelling on both the testicle.

When you present to the clinic with these symptoms, your doctor may conduct a physical examination to check the lump in your testicles, and order a set of blood tests, chest X-ray, MRI and CT scans. An ultrasound scan of your scrotum may be recommended to determine the position and size of the tumour and a biopsy may be required to confirm the diagnosis of the cancer. This information is used to stage the cancer according to severity and extent of spread.

The treatment of the testicular cancer depends on the type and stages of the tumour, and may include a combination of the below.

  • Surgery: Removal of testicles (orchiectomy) and also the neighbouring lymph nodes (lymphadenectomy).
  • Radiation therapy: Post-surgical procedure that uses high-dose X-rays or high-energy rays to destroy and prevent the tumour from recurring.
  • Chemotherapy: Involves the use of anti-cancer drugs to the kill cancer cells.
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