What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer occurs (for reasons often unknown) when healthy cells in the testicles become altered and begin growing and dividing in an abnormal pattern. Approximately 90% of testicular cancers originate in the germ cells, which produce immature sperm. There are two main types of germ cell tumors:
- Seminomas: These tumors grow slowly; they may increase blood levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (HGC), a protein that can be detected in a basic blood test.
- Non-seminomas: Most common in men between their late teens and early 30s, these tumors grow faster than seminomas and typically increase blood levels of AFP (alpha-fetoprotein).
Both types of testicular cancer respond to the same types of treatment.
The American Cancer Society estimates approximately 8,720 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016. Survival rates, however, are very good, as testicular cancer is highly treatable. The overall survival rate of seminoma (for all stages) is over 90%, according to the National Cancer Institute. Non-seminoma testicular cancer has a Stage I and Stage II survival rate of 95%, with a Stage III survival rate of 70%.
What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?
The average age for testicular cancer diagnosis is 33. This disease is most common in young and middle-age men. However, 7% of cases occur in children and teens and another 7% of cases occur in men over the age of 65. Other risk factors, in addition to age, include:
- Having had a scrotal surgery (such as orchiopexy or vasectomy)
- Race (Whites are six times more likely to develop testicular cancer than African-Americans.)
- Abnormal testicle development (e.g. Klinefelter’s syndrome)
- History of hernia
- History of infertility issues
- Family history of testicular cancer
- Orchitis (inflammation of the testicle)
- Trauma to the testicles is a possible factor
Are there symptoms of testicular cancer?
Symptoms of testicular cancer may include:
- Swelling or lump in the testicle
- Feeling of heaviness in scrotum
- Dull ache in groin or abdomen
- Fluid build-up in the scrotum
- Testicular pain
- Breast enlargement or tenderness (rare)
- Fever / night sweats
- Back pain
- Weight loss
If you experience pain, swelling, or abnormalities in the testicles – especially if accompanied by any of the symptoms of testicular cancer discussed above – see your primary care provider for an evaluation.
How do you screen for and detect testicular cancer?
If a health care provider detects a lump in one of the testicles, then a blood test may be used to look for testicular cancer. Other diagnostic and staging tests may include:
The Stages of Testicular Cancer
Unlike many cancers, which have four stages, testicular cancer only has three. Providers at Jordan Valley Cancer Center use the following testicular cancer stages:
- Stage I: Cancer is only present in the testicle.
- Stage II: Cancer has spread to abdominal lymph nodes.
- Stage III: Cancer has metastasized to other areas of the body – most commonly lungs and/or liver.
How do you treat testicular cancer?
Jordan Valley Cancer Center takes an integrative approach to testicular cancer treatment. By combining the knowledge and expertise of cancer specialists from fields as diverse as medical, radiation and surgical oncology, we are able to offer patients a comprehensive view of testicular cancer treatment. Learn more about some of the treatment options that may be available to you at Jordan Valley Cancer Center in West Jordan, UT:
- Radical inguinal orchiectomy (surgical removal of the testicle)
- Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (surgical removal of nearby lymph nodes)
- Oral Chemotherapy Dispensing
- Radiation Therapy
- Minimally Invasive & Laparoscopic Surgery
The Patient Experience at Jordan Valley Cancer Center
As a Jordan Valley Cancer Center patient, your Nurse Navigator serves as your educator and advocate. As you learn about different options for treating testicular cancer, your Nurse Navigator is there to answer questions and help you make decisions about pursuing treatment. For more information about our integrative approach to testicular cancer, contact us at 801-601-2260.