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Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer forms in tissues of the testis (one of two egg-shaped glands inside the scrotum that make sperm and male hormones). It usually occurs in young or middle-aged men. Two main types of testicular cancer are seminomas, or cancers that grow slowly and are sensitive to radiation therapy and make up about 30% of all testicular cancers. The other type of testicular cancer is nonseminomas or different cell types that grow more quickly than seminomas. Nonseminomas include choriocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, and yolk sac tumors.

The cause of testicular cancer is unknown however; there are several factors that increase a man’s chance of developing testicular cancer. These are undescended testicle, abnormal testicular development, Klinefelter syndrome, and history of testicular cancer. Most testicular cancers are often found by men themselves.

Doctors generally examine the testicles during routine physical exams also. Some of the symptoms of testicular are painless lump or swelling in either testicle, any enlargement of a testicle or change in the way it feels, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, a dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin, a sudden collection of fluid in scrotum, and pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum.

If any of these symptoms appear you should see your doctor and he will evaluate your general health as well as perform a physical exam, ultrasound, and lab tests. If a tumor is suspected the doctor will order a biopsy which involves surgery to remove the testicle. If only one testicle remains, a small incision is made to get tissue from the testicle. Once sample tissue is obtained it is sent to the lab for a pathologist to review under a microscope to determine diagnosis. If the diagnosis is testicular cancer the stage or extent of the disease will have to be determined to plan appropriate treatment for the patient.

Most men with testicular cancer can be cured with surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. Seminomas and nonseminomas grow and spread differently, and each type may need different treatment. Treatment also depends on the stage of the cancer, patient’s age, and general health.

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