Testicular Cancer

The testicles (also called the “testes”) are part of the male reproductive system . They are found in the scrotum—the pouch of skin that hangs below the penis. The testicles make testosterone and sperm. Testicular cancer is a growth called a tumour that starts in the testicle and can sometimes spread to other parts of the body. There are two main types of testicular tumour: 

  • Seminomas can grow in men at any age but are less aggressive.
  • Non-seminomas usually affect younger men and are more likely grow and spread quickly.

Can testicular cancer kill you? 

Current treatments for testicular cancer are very effective. Death from testicular cancer is rare.

What is my prognosis? 

Your prognosis is your risk of the cancer growing quickly and/ or coming back after treatment. The type and stage of testicular cancer will help you and your doctor understand this.

How soon do I need to start cancer treatment? 

Treatment should be started as soon as possible.

I found a lump in the scrotum during a self-examination. Should I be worried?

Anomalies may arise in the male reproductive system, such as a mass in the scrotum, what may not be a cause for concern and have little effect on your health. However, can also be a sign of a serious illness, so it is important to find out what's causing this mass. For example, the testicular cancer is a cause for concern and requires a quick action. It is important to see a doctor if you find a lump in your testicle.

  • Age 18 to 35 years
  • An undescended testicle (cryptorchidism), in the past or the present
  • Opening for urine on the underside of the penis instead of at the tip (hypospadias)
  • Poor sperm production that makes it difficult getting a partner pregnant
  • Abnormal testicle development
  • Family history (father or brother had testicular cancer)
  • White race 

As testicular cancer grows, you might feel a lump or swelling in part of one testicle . This is the most common symptom. You might have pain in a testicle or the scrotum, but testicular cancer is not usually painful. However, if you have one of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor right away. The sooner testicular cancer is caught, the better the chance of cure. 

Your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your medical history. Depending on your symptoms and risk factors, blood tests and ultrasound may be ordered to check for testicular cancer.

With one testicle, most men will still produce sperm and the male sex hormone testosterone. Some men, however, will need medical treatment to restore normal levels of testosterone in the body. It is usually not possible to restore normal sperm production after damage to the testicular tissue. You can have a false testicle (prosthesis) put into the scrotum during the operation. This is sometimes done, for cosmetic reasons only, to give a normal appearance. 

If you wish to father children after treatment for testicular cancer, you should be offered a semen analysis and cryopreservation of sperm (freezing deposits of sperm samples in a sperm bank). This should be performed before orchiectomy, ideally, but in any case prior to chemotherapy treatment. In the very rare case of testicular cancer on both sides, where both testicles are removed, a man will not be able to father children naturally after surgery. However, sperm banking before treatment still gives a fair chance of success. 

If testicular cancer runs in your family, tell your doctor. The risk of getting this cancer is higher if a close family member—for example, your father or brother— was diagnosed with it. There are no routine tests to screen for testicular cancer. Your son might want to do a selfexamination regularly.

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