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If you want to learn more about testicular cancer, then you’re making a good decision because with knowledge comes prevention and early detection. In terms of cancer, understanding it plays a big role in how you lookout for it and treat it with your doctor.
Testicular Education 101: Testicular Cancer May Be Coming
Testicular cancer is one of four types of cancer that are restricted to males. And approximately 9,000 new cases are discovered every year. This means that overall, it is not an incredibly common type of cancer, but because of where it’s located, it can understandably cause some worry and concern among men.
So, let’s get started. Here are the five most important things you need to know about testicular cancer, what it looks like, and how to find it in your body.
Not all testicular lumps are indicative of cancer.
If you feel a lump in one of your testicles while you’re showering, your first instinct is highly likely to be – oh no, cancer! But not all testicular lumps are indicative of cancer. In fact, there are a variety of conditions that can cause a lump to form in a testicle, like a hydrocele, spermatocele, varicocele, and hernia. In some cases, the epididymis can even be confused for a lump. The epididymis is the tube that joins the testicle to the vas deferens. It is located along the back of the testicle and it can sometimes be sensitive to the touch. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a lump seriously, should you discover one.
In most cases (but not all), a lump related to testicular cancer is painless. The lump is also usually firm, and in some cases, the testicle itself will feel firm or “heavy.” Some men may complain of a dull ache in their lower abdomen or groin area, but again, symptoms can vary.
When you think of cancer, you probably think of it affecting someone older in age. But testicular cancer can actually affect any man at any age and at any time, and it can even develop in babies. But it is most prominent in young, white males between the ages of 15 and 35. In fact, it is the most common type of malignancy in young men, with more than half of all of the cases of this type of cancer being diagnosed within that specific population.
White males are four to five times more likely to suffer from testicular cancer than black males, and three times more likely than men of Asian descent. Approximately one in 280 men in the United States will develop testicular cancer in their lifetime.
If you think you feel a lump in your testicle, then you should see your doctor immediately, because this type of cancer is particularly easy to diagnose and early detection is the key to surviving it.
Your doctor will examine your testicles, and if necessary, order a testicle ultrasound. The ultrasound is a quick and painless procedure that will rule out or confirm the existence of a mass. If the ultrasound result is positive, then your doctor will order blood tests to check for tumor markers, typically certain types of proteins produced by cancer tumors. If the blood tests suggest cancer, then a biopsy will be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Unlike some forms of cancer, little is known about the causes of testicular cancer. Currently, science has earmarked just a couple of risk factors for it, including:
Of these five risk factors, an undescended testicle presents the highest risk of developing cancer. A testicle that is undescended is one that did not descend into the scrotum during the seventh month of fetal development, and according to studies, this type of testicle is five times more likely to develop cancer than a descended testicle.
If the cancer is diagnosed and treated while still localized within the testicle, the patient has a 99% five-year relative survival rate.
Just the word “cancer” is enough to send fear into the heart of anyone, but it’s made that much worse when you hear it from your doctor. That said, testicular cancer is a highly treatable form of cancer that when caught early, has a very high survival rate.
If the cancer is diagnosed and treated while still localized within the testicle, the patient has a 99% five-year relative survival rate. Thanks to today’s innovative medical advancements, even more, developed forms of testicular cancer can be treated and cured.
In most cases, the affected testicle will be surgically removed via an Orchiectomy. Depending on the stage and type of cancer, and whether or not cancer has spread to any other part of the body, the patient may or may not receive chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments.
All definitions are courtesy of the Mayo Clinic.
Testicular cancer is beatable. Just ask guys like Tom Green, Lance Armstrong, and Chuck Billy. If you think you feel a lump, be sure to tell your doctor. Even if you don’t feel pain or any other symptoms, tell your doctor anyway. In the best-case scenario, the tests will just assure that cancer is not present. But if by chance it is cancer, then catching it early will help ensure that you are in the best position possible to overcome it.