April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

by GregP_WN WhatNext Editorial Team

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. Testicular cancer is an uncommon cancer. About 1 in every 250 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer. In the U.S., about 9, 560 men will be diagnosed with this cancer in 2019. About 400 men die annually of advanced testicular cancer.

Testicular Cancer Info Graphic

Every hour of every day of the year, a man hears the words – “You have testicular cancer.”

Testicular cancer is a younger man's disease, occurring mostly in men ages 15-34. It is most common in Caucasian men. Testicular cancer rates had been rising over the last four decades, but the rates have been declining recently.

Symptoms

Survival rates are extremely high when testicular cancer is caught early. So recognition of symptoms is key to a positive outcome.
Regular self-exams are critical to a man’s health — as are breast self-exams for women. Most men (or their partners) detect their cancer themselves. Early testicular cancer is usually painless and you don’t feel sick.

Many men find that performing their monthly self-exam is easiest in a warm shower. The scrotum is relaxed allowing each testicle to be easily examined. Don’t be alarmed if one testicle is larger than the other or if one is lower than the other. This is normal.

Lump or swelling in the testicle – may feel like a garden pea or marble
Any enlargement of a testicle
A significant loss of size in one of the testicles
A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
A dull ache in the lower abdomen, back or in the groin
A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts

Lump Or Swelling In Testicle

See your doctor immediately if you detect any lump, nodule or swelling in one or both of your testicles or one of these other symptoms . Don’t wait — remember that testicle cancer diagnosed in its earliest stages is almost always curable.

Risk Factors

Researchers don’t know why cancer forms in the testicles, but there are several risk factors. If you have any risk factors, talk to your doctor about screenings to help detect testicular cancer early.

An undescended testicle
Family history of testicular cancer
HIV infection
Carcinoma in situ of the testicle
Having had testicular cancer before
Being Caucasian – testicular cancer is 4 to 5 times more likely than in Asian or African-American men
Body size – some studies show that taller men are at slightly increased risk
Age – half of the men diagnosed are between 20 and 34

How is Testicular Cancer Diagnosed?

Not all lumps or irregularities are cancerous. Urologists usually care for men if they experience a lump, swelling or other abnormality.
Ultrasound. An ultrasound is a non-invasive test where sound waves produce an image of your scrotum and testicles. The ultrasound can detect whether a lump is filled with fluid or is a solid tumor. The ultrasound detects whether the lump is on the inside or outside of the testicle.
Blood tests. Cancerous tumors in the testicles may make proteins called alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), called tumor markers. Elevated levels of these proteins are suggestive of cancer in the testicle.

Surgery. When the ultrasound reveals a solid tumor and your tumor marker tests are elevated, a surgeon removes the testicle and a biopsy is done. The pathologist reports the type of cancer and to what extent it has spread.

Imaging tests. CT scans, MRIs, PET or bone scans show if your cancer has spread locally or to other parts of your body.

The stage is the extent of the growth of a cancerous tumor. The tumor may be localized or it might have grown outside the testicle or spread to the lymph nodes.

Physical Emotional Battle

Treatments

Surgery may be the only treatment you need. You will have regular check-ups afterward including checking your tumor makers to detect if your cancer might have returned.

Most men are still able to have normal sexual relations and be able to father children. Patients may decide to have reconstructive surgery and implant an artificial testicle. Every patient is different, and the decision is up to each patient.

Treatment options often depend on whether your cancer is a seminoma or non-seminoma type.

Patients with lymph node involvement may receive radiation or chemotherapy after surgery to help prevent recurrence. Men may decide to have sperm banking if they need additional surgery and want to have children.

Regular physical exams and blood work help doctors detect a possible recurrence and treat it immediately. Most of the time, cancer recurs within the first two years after treatment.

What Next?

Testicular cancer is an earth-shattering diagnosis for many young men. These young men wonder about their future. If a young man is single, he wonders about dating, marriage and having children. If he’s a young father, he worries about dying and leaving his wife and children. He wonders if his wife will still love him and if they’ll be able to have more children.

More than 220,000 testicular cancer survivors are living in the U.S. Just as with other cancer survivors, reading others’ stories helps us re-aright ourselves and continue living.

Here are some resources to help survivors after testicular cancer.

Sex After Testicular Cancer
Fertility and Sexuality
Testicular Cancer Patient StoriesApril is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. Testicular cancer is an uncommon cancer. About 1 in every 250

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