December 3rd, 2015
Testicular cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer found in younger men. Fortunately, with treatment, it is also one of the most survivable forms of all cancer, with an estimated 95% survival rate when caught in the early stages. The survival rate at later stages is only minimally lower. Although certain risk factors have been associated with a higher risk of testicular cancer, it is not clear why testicular cells, especially the immature sperm cells known as germ cells, become cancer cells. Alterations in the cell can occur as a result of damage to the DNA of the cell, causing disorderly growth. As cells accumulate, they form a tumor, or growth.
Testicular cancer is most prevalent in males from their teen years to about age 35, although it can occur at any age. White men are more likely to develop testicular cancer compared black men, and men who have a family history of testicular cancer are also at increased risk. A history of undescended testes and other developmental conditions of the testicles, including Klinefelter’s syndrome, are at higher risk for the disease, although most men who develop testicular cancer do not have these risk factors.
Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer are variable, ranging from discomfort or pain in the affected testicle or its vicinity to extend through the lower back or abdomen. Enlargement or swelling of the affected testicle may accompany the pain, although some patients experience swelling without pain. Testicular cancer can also result in development of abnormal breast tissue. Other symptoms include a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, a dull ache in the low abdomen or groin, or a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum. Usually, only one testicle is affected.
Self examination of the scrotal area can reveal early testicular cancer and can be particularly effective when performed on a monthly basis, as part of a self-care routine. Men should feel for any hard nodes, lumps, or swelling in the testicular area, an easy task while showering.
Testicular cancer is a cancer that responds well to treatment, but the disease can spread rapidly if unnoticed or untreated. The spread of metastatic testicular cancer throughout the body requires stronger and more toxic forms of treatment, often resulting in longer periods of recuperation.
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