Testicular Cancer – Cancer of the Young

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 12 and 50.  At a time when most men don’t want to admit that they may be ill it attacks. In 2007 there were approximately 7500 new cases diagnosed and approximately 350 who died from the disease.  This is actually more deaths of men than women who die from breast cancer each year.

If it’s found early testicular cancer is very treatable and has a high survival rate.  In order to find the cancer early you must perform a self examination each month and have an annual examination by a physician.  Your doctor can provide you with self examination instructions.  Other symptoms that a man can be aware of are a heavy feeling in the testicles or groin, a dull ache in the groin or abdomen, a lump in the testicles and any hard, non-sensitive lumps.

There are two basic types of testicular cancers — seminoma and nonseminomas.  The Seminoma is made of a single type of cell and makes up approximately 40% of the testicular cancers that are diagnosed.  The NonSeminoma cancers consist of several different cell types and make up approximately 60% of the different cancers diagnosed.

Testicular cancer is known as the young man’s cancer.  After motor vehicle accidents and suicide it is the leading cause of death in men between 15 and 44.  Because early testicular cancer has little to no symptoms it’s important for men to do self-examinations monthly.

The purpose of the testicular exam is to familiarize yourself with the size, shape and texture of the testicles.  The exam is best done in the shower or bath because when warm the testicles will hang further from the body and the skin will be softer.

If a man detects a lump or bump in the testicle then a simple non-invasive ultrasound can be used to examine the size, density and shape of the testicles and find any other masses in the scrotum.

Some of the risk factors for developing this condition include undescended testicles, a personal history of testicular cancer, family history, occupation, HIV infection, race and age.  This is one of only several disease conditions where a young age places the individual at a higher risk for developing the disease than being older.  In fact, men prior to puberty or into old age have a significantly lower risk of developing testicular cancer than do men between 15 and 50.

Research from the UK has found that testicular cancer affects 1 in 450 men before the age of 50.  They have found that the number of cancers that have been diagnosed in the past 20 years has doubled and approximately 2,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

Testicular cancer is now also one of the most curable cancers diagnosed in men.  Approximately 90% make a full recovery.  The treatment includes removal of the affected testicle and if the cancer hasn’t been found to spread then no further treatment may be necessary.  Removal of the affected testicle may cause emotional trauma to the man but it doesn’t affect their sexual performance or their ability to have children.

With adequate self-examination leading to early detection and treatment most men are able to go on to lead a normal and healthy life.


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