Testicular cancer affects men and is a very rare cancer, present in an average of 1 in 25,000 men. It occurs mainly in young individuals, often between the ages of 15 and 55. We can distinguish two main types of testicular cancer: those developed in the reproductive cells, called seminomas, and those qualified as non-seminoma cancers, with different subtypes depending on the affected cells. Testicular abnormalities, a history of infection or trauma seem to be associated with a greater risk of testicular tumors.
Symptoms that may point to testicular cancer are:
- an increase in the size of a testicle, usually discovered by the patient himself;
- a testicle that is typically hard;
- occasionally, pain in a testicle;
- occasionally, an increase in the size of nearby lymph nodes.
At the same time, the patient may feel tired, lose his appetite and lose weight.
If these symptoms are noticed, various tests can be performed depending on which signs are present. An ultrasound of the scrotum may be made to view and study the increase in testicular volume. A blood analysis can be performed with some markers, mainly proteins and hormones, which will increase in the case of a testicular tumor. Based on these results, if cancer is strongly suspected, the removal of the testicle will be carried out: this is called an orchiectomy, and the analysis of the removed testicle will confirm the presence of cancer. In this case, further investigations are undertaken to locate the possible migration of cancer cells to lymph nodes or other organs.
The treatment of testicular cancer is often initiated even before the diagnostic confirmation of the disease. This is by orchiectomy. Beforehand, the conservation of the sperm of the individual is proposed in case the latter becomes infertile after the operation. Thereafter, the treatment will depend on the analysis of the removed testicle and staging. Frequently, treatment consists of chemotherapy in the case of nonseminomas, or radiation in the case of seminomas.
Prevention of testicular cancer is mainly founded on the monitoring of patients at increased risk and early consultation in the case of testicular mass.