How is testicular cancer detected? What are symptoms of testicular cancer?
Most testicular cancers are found by men themselves. Also, doctors generally examine the testicles during routine physical exams. Between regular checkups, if a man notices anything unusual about his testicles, he should talk with his doctor. Men should see a doctor if they notice any of the following symptoms:
- a painless lump or swelling in a testicle
- pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- any enlargement of a testicle or change in the way it feels
- a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- a dull ache in the lower abdomen, back, or groin
- a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
These symptoms can be caused by cancer or by other conditions. It is important to see a doctor to determine the cause of any of these symptoms.
How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
To help find the cause of symptoms, the doctor evaluates a man’s general health. The doctor also performs a physical exam and may order laboratory and diagnostic tests. These tests include:
- Blood tests that measure the levels of tumor markers. Tumor markers are substances often found in higher-than-normal amounts when cancer is present.
- Ultrasound, a test in which high-frequency sound waves are bounced off internal organs and tissues. Their echoes produce a picture called a sonogram.
- Biopsy (microscopic examination of testicular tissue by a pathologist) to determine whether cancer is present.
Quick Facts about Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer can develop in one or both testicles in males of any age, including infants and elderly men. Testicular cancer occurs most often in men between the ages of 20 and 39, and is the most common form of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 34.
In 2009, there were 8,400 estimated new cases and 380 deaths from testicular cancer in the United States.
Testicular cancer is not common; a man’s lifetime chance of getting it is about 1 in 300. A small increase in risk still makes the chance of ever getting it low. The risk of dying from this cancer is about 1 in 5,000.
Testicular cancer is highly treatable and usually can be cured, especially when it is found early. The sooner you start treatment, the more effective it is likely to be.
Two main types of testicular cancer are seminomas (cancers that grow slowly and are sensitive to radiation therapy) and nonseminomas (different cell types that grow more quickly than seminomas).
More than 95 percent of testicular cancer cases can be cured.
Certain treatments for testicular cancer can cause infertility that may be permanent. Patients who may wish to have children should consider sperm banking before having treatment. Sperm banking is the process of freezing sperm and storing it for later use.
It is recommended that men ages 15-40 perform a self-examination of their testicles each month. If an unusual lump is found, they should seek a health professional.
What are the signs and symptoms? A video guide.Dr. Phillip J. Alliotta, Medical Director at Main Urology Associates, gives a brief description of the most common signs and symptoms of Testicular Cancer.