Testicular Cancer

When cells in certain parts of the body divide abnormally, they form a non-functional mass called a tumor. This abnormal type of cell division may be caused by genetic mutations or from toxins that enter the body. Tumors may either be benign or malignant, and it is the latter that is potentially cancerous and deadly if not given medical treatment. In the male reproductive system, prostate cancer and testicular cancer are such conditions that afflict many men around the world. The testes or testicles are the male reproductive organs, which are responsible for the production of sex hormones like androgen and testosterone as well as sperm cells. When a tumor or cancerous growth is detected, this can lead to testicular cancer. This type of cancer can greatly affect the production of sperm cells, and cause dangerous hormonal imbalances in the body. Testicular cancer accounts for one to two percent of all cancers in men and the number is growing by the day. As stated by a 2007 report of the American Cancer Society, there are approximately 7,900 new cases of testicular cancer per year. Within the same year, around 300 to 400 men will die with complications of the disease. Testicular cancer occurs in men, generally between the ages 25 to 40 and rarely seen after the age of 70.

Risk Factors

Who are the men that are at risk of getting testicular cancer? The National Institutes of Health explain that among the ethnicities of men in the United States, white American men are more likely to be victims of testicular cancer. They are followed by African American men, and by Asian American men. Men with undescended testicles at the time of birth have a greater chance of contracting testicular cancer. The other factors that may lead to testicular cancer include inguinal hernia, mumps infection of the testicles and testicular torsion. Vasectomy operation intended for birth control, will not affect the risk of getting testicular cancer. Hereditary genes also play an important part in contracting testicular cancer. Some sources claim that regular or frequent exposure to some harmful chemicals may contribute to the occurrence of testicular cancer. Dietary habits have no correlation with testicular cancer. The only saving grace here is, it is easily curable and cases of death are very few. Almost all the cases of testicular cancer can be classified into two main types namely Seminomas affecting the younger males and Teratomas affecting the elderly. This condition is said to be the most common male-specific cancer that affects the 15 to 40 age group in the United States.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms to look for in the diagnosis of testicular cancer? The elementary symptom of the testicular cancer is a lump in one of the testicles or a painless swelling. Some other symptoms that may be observed include a noticeable pain in testicle, bulging of a testicle or persistent pain in the lower stomach. A man may feel constant pains in the abdominal area or the lower back as a result of the cancer spreading, which can also be detected in the lungs, pelvis, and abdomen. However, in some cases, there may be no apparent symptoms of the disease. A physical examination should be done by a doctor to determine if an abnormal growth has developed in the testes. An ultrasound may also be performed to find out if a tumor is present.

Diagnosis

Once you consult the family doctor, he will thoroughly check the testicles and if the need arises, the case will be referred to a specialist. The specialist will conduct ultra sound scan of the testicles to ascertain any untoward growth or lumps inside them. If any lump is found, a tissue sample of lump is taken out and sent to a pathologist for examination. He will then determine the cancerous nature of the lump. Once it is diagnosed as cancerous lump, further blood tests would be conducted to know the exact stage and progress of it in the body. HCG(Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin), AFP(Alpha Fetoprotein) and LDH(Lactate Dehydrogenase) levels in the blood would be checked to know the spread of the cancerous cells.

Treatment

Treatment for the disease is similar to other types of cancer, where radiation therapy and chemotherapy have been found to be effective when used together. The type of treatment used is dependent on the current stage of the patient’s testicular cancer. In some cases, an orchiectomy or the surgical removal of the testis may be done.

Surgery

Normally surgery is performed to remove the affected testicle. The removal of one testicle will not affect the man’s erection ability or reduce the ability to produce an off spring. In some cases, an artificial testicle can be inserted in the scrotum to restore the natural appearance. Surgery would normally suffice for many, but for some others radiation therapy or chemotherapy is also given to kill the left over cancer cells, spread beyond the testicle. In addition to this the radio therapy and chemotherapy methods are also widely used to tackle this cancer.

Side effects

Patients subjected to radio therapy may experience nausea or diarrhea, which can be taken care of, by certain drugs. Chemotherapy patients also complain of mouth ulcers, nausea, hair loss, and ringing in the ears for which preventive medicines can also be prescribed. A higher dosage of drugs involves higher amount of pain. Certain testicular cancer treatments may cause infertility on a permanent basis. Patients prescribed higher doses of therapy, can consider sperm banking for future use, in case something goes wrong badly.

Effectiveness of the treatment

The above three methods of treatments are sufficient to deal with testicular cancer. The earlier the diagnosis, the higher are the chances of complete cure. Even in case of late detection, the percentage of success is more than 50%. The point to note here is that complete cure denotes more than 10 years of survival after the treatment.
With the facts and figures discussed above, you can successfully tackle testicular cancer without any hassle and steer clear of the attendant problems.
 

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