testicular cancer

OVERVIEW

Before anything else, it is important that the nature of cancer is understood before going into the different kinds of cancer.  This is basically the abnormal growth and development of cells in the body.  They could grow either and die rapidly or grow gradually and accumulate in certain tissues and organs in the body.  One of the major types of cancer prominent in men is known as testicular cancer.  This is basically the abnormal growth of cells in the testicles, which endangers the health of sperm since this is where sperm is being produced.

The cancer normally grows in only one testicle with a percentage of 5% occurring on both testicles.  These uncontrolled growths of cancer cells would result then to a mass known as a tumor.  Tumors may either grow quickly or slowly depending on the type of cancer, but almost all start to produce symptoms once the mass becomes large enough.  Tumors are very dangerous because they normally consume space, oxygen, and nutrients needed in the body to function normally, but they are only recognized as cancer if they start to spread throughout the body when untreated and undiagnosed.

TYPES AND FORMS

Testicular cancers come in many forms and comprise different types of tumors.  Usually the type is based on the cell from which the tumor grows and forms.  The most common type is the germ cell carcinoma, which is a tumor that develops and rises from the cells that form the sperm within the testes.  Other types include:

  • Leydig cell tumor
  • Sertoli cell tumor
  • Primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET)
  • Leiomyosarcomas
  • Rhabdomyosarcomas
  • Mesotheliomas

There are also two types of germ cell tumors:


  • Seminomas – arises from only one type of cell, usually slow and gradual when growing and they tend to not spread from the testicle for a long period of time.  These types of tumors have occurred at least 40% of all testicular cancers in men.
  • Teratomas or Nonseminomas – this is a type of germ cell tumor that is composed of mature cells and are made of more than one type of tumor.  This type of germ cell tumor is rapidly growing and tends to spread more aggressively all throughout the body as compared to the seminomas tumor.

SYMPTOMS

Here are some of the most common symptoms of this disease:
Most testicular cancers are discovered immediately once the man feels painless swelling, a lump, or pain in the testicle.  Painless swelling normally occurs 58% in testicular cancer, lumps at 27%, and pain in the testicle at 33%.

Less common symptoms of the cancer include aches and sensations of heaviness in the testicle.
There is a shrinking phenomenon or gradual hardness in the testicle.
Fluids, pain and discomfort present in the scrotum
Unexplained fatigue or feeling of discomfort

CAUSES

The causes are still quite unknown, but there are known risk factors that contribute to the development of testicular cancer.  Some of these risk factors include:

  • Abnormal testicle development or any disease or condition that contributes to the abnormal development of the testicle.  One example is Klinefelter’s syndrome.
  • Family history is another risk factor.  If previous members of the family had this disease, then most likely it would get passed down to the next generation.
  • Usually the testes, after forming in the abdominal area during early development, would then descent to the scrotum before birth.  If the testes don’t descend before birth, men with such condition are at high risk of having testicular cancer.
  • Other risk factors are the age of the person and the race.  According to medical research, this disease usually affects teens and younger men between 15 to 34 years of age and it are rampant usually among white men.  The reasons for the difference in the race are still unknown.

TREATMENT

Once diagnosed, you are given options for treatments which will depend on the type and stage of the cancer, overall health, and your own preferences as to which surgery you are more comfortable with.  There are possible treatment options for this disease:

You can undergo surgery in order to remove your testicle in which the tumor can be found.  This is known as radical inguinal orchiectomy and is known to be the main treatment for almost all stages and types of testicular cancer.  In order to do this, the surgeon will make an incision in the groin area and extract the testicle through the opening.

Radiation therapy is usually recommended for men who have the seminoma type of cancer, which uses high powered beams to kill the cancer cells.  There are side effects to this kind of treatment though, including fatigue, irritation in the abdominal area, and skin redness.

Chemotherapy can also be a treatment option, in which doctors will make you take powerful drugs in order to kill the cancer cells.

By Leo