Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for young men, which means it’s vital that you know exactly how to spot it before it’s too late. Read on for further guidance.
Cancer is likely to affect all of us at some point. Whether it’s a family member, friend, colleague, or yourself, cancer unfortunately plays a bigger role in society than any of us would like.
Testicular cancer most commonly affects men between 15 and 49 years of age, resulting in a swelling or lump on one of the testicles, or a general change in shape or texture. While testicular cancer and its potential consequences are well documented, not everyone is as prudent as they should be when it comes to keeping an eye on what’s going on downstairs. This could lead to a late cancer diagnosis, leaving a much higher mortality rate in its wake.
It’s much easier than you might think to look after your testicles, and doing so could potentially save your life in the long run. So, to find out more about how to spot the signs of testicular cancer, keep reading…
How Common Is Testicular Cancer?
Generally speaking, testicular cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer, accounting for just 1 percent of cancers that occur in men. On average, around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year in the UK.
However, testicular cancer is unusual because it commonly affects younger men, making it the most common type of cancer for men between 15 and 49.
It’s also been found that white men have a higher risk of developing testicular cancer than men from other ethnic groups, though the reasons for this aren’t clear.
What are the Causes of Testicular Cancer?
While it’s not always possible to determine exactly what causes testicular cancer, there are a number of factors that could contribute to the cancer emerging. The most significant of these being undescended testicles.
Around three to five percent of boys are born with their testicles inside their abdomen, which then usually descend into their scrotum before they turn one. It’s been found that boys with undescended testicles have a higher risk of developing testicular cancer than boys whose testicles descend normally.
Your risk of developing testicular cancer is also increased if you have a close relative with a history of testicular cancer or an undescended testicle. So, if you have any concerns, it’s always worth checking with your family if there is a history you should be aware of.
What Types of Testicular Cancer Are There?
There are different types of testicular cancers to be aware of, including:
Germ Cell Testicular Cancer
Germ cell testicular cancer is the most common form of testicular cancer, accounting for 95 percent of all cases. Germ cells are the cell that the body uses to create sperm.
There are two main subtypes of germ cell testicular cancer: seminomas and non-seminomas. Both of these subtypes respond well to chemotherapy treatment.
Leydig Cell Tumours
Leydig cell tumours develop from the Leydig cells, which release testosterone. They account for around one to three percent of cases.
Sertoli Cell Tumours
Sertoli cell tumours occur in normal Sertoli cells, which support and nourish the sperm-making cells. They make up less than one percent of cases.
What Are the Symptoms of Testicular Cancer?
There are a wide range of potential symptoms that might indicate that you have testicular cancer, so it’s important to be as clued up as possible! Potential testicular cancer symptoms include:
- A painless lump on either testicle (potentially the size of a pea)
- Pain, discomfort or numbness in either testicle
- A change in the way the testicle feels compared to normal (heaviness, firmness, texture)
- A change in size of the testicle
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin
- A build-up of fluid in the scrotum
- Swelling of one or both legs
- Unexplained lower back pain
- Breast tenderness or growth (some tumours can make hormones that cause this)
Of course, these symptoms don’t categorically mean that someone has testicular cancer. But it’s best practice to consult a medical professional, just to be sure. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Always.
How Can you Check for Signs of Testicular Cancer?
It’s easier (and quicker) than you might think to check for signs of testicular cancer. The most effective way of keeping your crown jewels in check is to give them a once over whenever you hop into a shower. That way, you’ll be able to regularly assess yourself and quickly get to know what feels normal for you.
Once you’re in the shower, wait until your skin is relaxed, before using your fingers and thumbs to examine each testicle. Feel for any lumps or bumps, or anything out of the ordinary.
If you do find anything that you feel concerned about, make sure you arrange to see a doctor so that you can get it checked out. The sooner, the better!
How is Testicular Cancer Treated?
As with most types of cancer, there are three main approaches to treatment for testicular cancer: chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Your recommended treatment will rely on several factors, including the type of testicular cancer you have and the stage it has progressed to.
The first treatment option for all cases of this cancer is to surgically remove the affected testicle (an orchidectomy). For stage one seminomas, a single dose of chemotherapy may be given to prevent the cancer from returning, as well as a short course of radiotherapy.
For stages two and three, further cycles of chemotherapy are usually given – three to four tend to be the most common.
Deciding what treatment is best is far from an easy decision, so it’s best to talk through every option in detail with a medical professional.
Do You Any Concerns About Testicular Cancer?
There we have it! Hopefully this post has given you a better insight into testicular cancer and the ways you can spot it before it ends up being too late. Have you got any more question, or even some further advice about how to check for the signs? Leave a comment below so we can keep the discussion going…