In the past couple of months we had tips on the female patient and instructed our male readers that it was vital they read the information as well to help keep the women in their lives healthy. Well ladies it is your turn. This time we are going to focus on men's health and it's your turn to read this information and make sure that every man in your life stays healthy and aware of the risk of developing testicular cancer.
What are the testicles?
The testicles, also referred to as the testes or gonads, are the male sex organs. They are in a pouch of skin called the scrotum which is located behind the penis. The functions of the testicles are the production and storage of sperm, and also the primary source of male hormones. Reproductive organs and other male characteristics, such as body and facial hair, low voice and wide shoulders are controlled by these hormones.
What is testicular cancer?
Determined by the characteristics of the cells in the tumor, testicular cancers are classified as seminomas or nonseminomas. Seminomas may be one of several types: classic, choricocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, and yolk sac tumors.
In the United States only 1 percent of cancer in men is attributed to testicular cancer, although 8,000 men are diagnosed and approximately 390 men die annually from this disease. Men between the ages of 20 and 39 have the most occurrences and it is the most common type of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 34 (webmd). The rate of testicular cancer in white males has more then doubled in the past 40 years, but only recently has there been an increase in black men. The reason for the racial difference is unknown.
What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?
The exact causes of testicular cancer are unknown, although studies have shown factors that can increase the chance of developing this disease.
- Undescended testicle: Normally, in utero the testicles descend from inside the abdomen to the scrotum. If the testicles do not descend there is an increase risk of developing testicular cancer.
- Congenital abnormalities: Men born with abnormalities of the testicles, penis, kidneys and inguinal hernias may have a higher risk.
- History of testicular cancer: Men with a history of testicular cancer are at a higher risk of developing testicular cancer in the other testicle.
- Family history of testicular cancer: The risk is greater in men whose brother or father had testicular cancer.
What are symptoms of testicular cancer?
- A painless lump or swelling in a testicle
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- 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, back, or groin
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
- Blood tests
If testicular cancer is found, more testing would need to be done to determine whether or not the cancer has spread throughout the body.
What are the treatments for testicular cancer?
- Radiation therapy
It is important to know that men who are diagnosed with testicular cancer often have fertility problems even before they are treated.
Regular follow-up exams are extremely important for men who have been treated for testicular cancer. Like all cancers, there are chances of a reoccurrence. Generally patients have regular blood tests to measure tumor marker levels, along with regular x-rays and computed tomography, also known as CT scans or CAT scans. Men with a history of testicular cancer have a greater chance of developing cancer in the remaining testicle.
Please check out this link on the Gable Health Center website to learn how to do a monthly testicular exam. http://www.albright.edu/services/healthcenter/test-self-exam.html.