Testicular cancer affects the cells inside the testicles, which form part of the male anatomy. While the common testicular cancer symptoms should be properly understood by all men, it is comforting to know that only around 1% of male cancers are testicular cancer.
Causes of Testicular Cancer:
While nobody knows exactly why some men develop testicular cancer and others do not, there are some known risk factors. These include:
- Age, with men aged between 15 and 39 being at the highest risk
- Race, with Caucasian males being more likely to develop it
- Medical history, with the cancer often recurring
- Having an undescended testicle, even after surgery
- Genetic disorders such as Klinefelter’s syndrome
- Having a family history
Common Testicular Cancer Symptoms:
So what are the most common testicular cancer symptoms to be aware of? As with all cancer, lumps and swellings are indications. Pain, particularly in the scrotum, lower back, groin, or abdominal area, are also common. Other symptoms include:
- Hydrocele, which is a buildup of fluid that causes swelling in the groin or scrotum. This is often not painful, although it is unsightly. Hydrocele can happen at any age but is most common in those over 40.
- Varicocele, which is a twisted, enlarged vein, usually on the left side of the scrotum. It can be uncomfortable and feels like a bag of worms.
- Spermatocele, which is a cyst filled with sperm in the coiled tubes behind the testicle. It feels like a firm, smooth lump.
- Orchitis, which is in inflammation of the testicle that can be viral or bacterial in nature. It is most common in men with mumps.
- Epididymitis, which is an inflammation of the epididymis, which is the coiled tube behind the testicles where sperm is collected. It is usually caused by bacteria, sometimes collected after a urologic procedure, or it can be caused by an STD (sexually transmitted disease), particularly in men under 35.
Testicular Cancer Treatment:
If detected on time, testicular cancer has a high rate of curability. Indeed, 95% of men with this cancer have a five year survival rate at least. However, around 50% of men seek treatment too late, waiting until the cancer has spread. This had happened with Lance Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France. Usually, men find the cancer themselves by performing a monthly self-examination, which involves feeling the testicles for lumps or bumps, and any other changes.
They should also look for:
- Swelling and pain
- Nodules or lumps, which may not be painful
- Enlarged testicles
- Pain in the groin, back, or lower abdomen
- Fluid collection in the scrotum
If any of the above-mentioned symptoms are present, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early detection is key to increasing the chance for cancer survival. While men often feel a sense of embarrassment speaking to a physician about their testicles, they should try to get over this. It is a normal part of the anatomy and should be treated as such.