When compared to other forms of cancer, testicular cancer is one of the less prevalent, and is easily treatable if detected early on. Be sure to visit your doctor for annual checkups and physical exams, so he or she can help in the prevention of testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer is defined when cancerous abnormalities are present in the male testicles. The testes are located below the penis, and are covered by the scrotum. Almost all cases of testicular cancer cells begin in the “germ cells,” which are responsible for producing sperm.
Causes And Risk Factors
The cause for testicular cancer is mostly unknown, but research suggests that byproducts of the pesticide, DDT, have been linked to increased rates of testicular cancer. DDT is known to linger in fat cells, and can disrupt the endocrine system, which is responsible for hormone regulation in the body.
Other risk factors for testicular cancer include:
- Age: Cancer of the testes strikes men during the younger and middle-age years. Young men ages 15 to 35 are at the highest risk and approximately 7,400 cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. It is important to note, however, that it can still happen to any males outside of that particular age range.
- Ethnicity: For unknown reasons, Caucasian males are at higher risk for testicular cancer.
- Cryptorchidism: This is a physical condition characterized by testes that never fully descended into the scrotum. While the testicles are developed in the abdomen area during fetal development, they usually descend prior to birth. Even if they are surgically relocated back to the scrotum, men who suffer from cryptorchidism are still at higher risk of cancer than others.
- Abnormalities of the testes: Other abnormal developments of the testes, such as Klinefelter’s Syndrome (a chromosomal disorder), can also increase the risk of testicular cancer.
- Hereditary: If the individual has a family history of male relatives who suffered from testicular cancer, he is at higher risk than those who do not.
Generally, there are no specific preventative measures against testicular cancer. However, these steps can give you a healthier body and aid against cancer in general.
- Self-examination: While it is still up to debate on whether self-examination is an effective method to detect early signs of cancer, it does not hurt to do it just in case. It is best to do so in a warm or environment, such as right after a shower, so the testes can properly descend into the scrotum for examination. Usually, the annual physical examination done by a doctor should be sufficient. During the self-examination, if suspicious lumps are detected, it is best to consult a doctor right away for testing.
- Eat a high-fiber, antioxidant-filled, nutrient-dense diet: Eating healthy, combined with exercise, can be a potent fighter against cancer in general. Limit consumption of processed, packaged foods, and increase consumption of colorful, fresh produce. Try to eat less fried and blackened foods, as those burned parts usually contain carcinogens that may contribute to cancer.
- Limit exposure to toxins and chemicals: Toxic fumes, smog, or pesticides are a few examples of such chemicals. If they are an occupational hazard, be sure to seek the correct preventative methods to protect yourself, such as wearing protective clothing or airing out the work space.
Signs And Symptoms
Generally, there are no evident symptoms to testicular cancer. However, it may be helpful to look for these signs:
- Questionable lumps, enlargement, or growths on the testes
- Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, on one or both sides
- Pain or discomfort in the scrotum area or testicles
- Fluid collection in the scrotum or testes area
- A consistent ache in the groin area
If there are any suspicions physical signs in the scrotum or testes area, be sure to get them checked out by your doctor just to be safe. Usually, testicular cancer only affects one testicle at a time if caught in a timely manner.
Depending on the level of cancer and patient’s overall health, there are several different methods of treatment. Be sure to discuss with your doctor regarding various types of treatment for your case.
- Surgery: The doctor may choose to remove the affected testicle, the lymph nodes surrounding the affected site, or both. Often times, the patient can choose to have a saline-filled sac to replace the removed testes for cosmetic reasons.
- Radiation therapy: In this treatment, special radiation beams are used to kill cancer cells. The body would be positioned so that the beams can be swept over affected area, and treatment usually takes several visits.
- Chemotherapy: This method is employed if the doctor suspects traveling of the cancer cells to other parts of the body. This treatment can be employed along with radiation therapy or surgery for precautionary measures.