Published on March 4, 2014
Testicular Cancer Testicular cancer is a rare and aggressive disease, however if caught early has a relatively high treatment and cure rate. It mostly affects men between the ages of 18-35. Find out more information here about the diagnosis, management, and treatment of testicular cancer.
What does a normal testicle feel like? • The testicle is a genital organ that produces testosterone and sperm • Normally, it is smooth and oval shaped • There is a “bumpy” structure that sits on top of the testicle called the epididymis (transports sperm) • Both testicles should be about the same consistency and size
What are the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer? • A firm, usually painless mass or lump on the testicle – Some cancerous masses (25-50%) can be achy or painful • Growth or swelling of the testicle • Abnormality in shape or consistency of one testicle compared to the other • Associated abdominal pain occurring with any of the above symptoms
What are the risk factors? • Undescended testicles as an infant or child – Called cryptorchidism – Testicles normally should descend from abdomen into scrotum – This should be corrected by age 2
How is testicular cancer diagnosed? • History – Complaints of a testicular mass that is new or is growing in size • Physical Exam – Mass noted on exam in clinic • Imaging – testicular ultrasound and/or CT scan • Labs – tumor markers done through blood work that may indicate if a certain type of cancer
How is testicular cancer treated? • Suspicious testicular tumors are treated with surgical removal of the affected testicle – Outpatient – About one hour long – Typically done through a small incision above the scrotum
What happens after surgery? • The removed testicle is sent to a pathologist (determines what type of cancer it is) • Based on the pathology report and labs, either radiation, chemotherapy, or both will be recommended • Repeat imaging may be ordered to check for spread to lymph nodes
How do you monitor for recurrent cancer? • Imaging through testicular ultrasound • Tumor markers – blood work – These are tests are done every 6 months to 1 year after initial surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation • The cure rate for localized and non-advanced tumors is very high (approaching 100%)
How can I monitor for testicular cancer? • Testicular self exams – Once a month – Feel for any abnormalities on the smooth testicle – Contact your doctor if you notice any abnormal growth or swelling of the testicle
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The Testicular Cancer Resource Center's Testicular Self Exam Page.
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