Testicles are responsible for producing the male sex hormone as well as the sperm for the purposes of reproduction. They are located in a loose sac of skin underneath the penis and inside the scrotum. Testicular cancer is cancer of the testicles. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer for male patients between the ages of 15 and 34, although due to public embarrassment, testicular cancer is very low on the public awareness scale. There has yet to be a determining factor as to the direct cause of testicular cancer. Male patients from the age of 13 and up should be taught to do monthly self examinations to help detect the early stages of testicular cancer. Just like all cancers, early detection can lead to a higher survival rate.
TESTICULAR CANCER SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The early signs of testicular cancer may be hard to detect. Initially there may not be any symptoms at all, however, in the secondary early stages, there may be a host of symptoms. If a patient is experiencing symptoms this does not mean that the cancer was detected too late for a good chance of survival.
Symptoms of testicular cancer may include unexplained fatigue, a sense of feeling generally ill, a sudden development of fluid in the scrotum, pain or discomfort in either the testicles or the scrotum, a dull ache in the abdomen or groin, a lump in one testicle, and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. It is very uncommon for testicular cancer to affect both testicles at once and usually only attacks on testicle.
Image: Testicular cancer
TESTICULAR CANCER RISK FACTOR
Risk factors for testicular cancer can include race, as more white males are affected than any other race, age, striking young men between the ages of 15 and 34, an undescended testicle, and HIV. Research has proven that young men with HIV or AIDS are more prone to developing certain cancers, including testicular cancer.
TESTICULAR CANCER DIAGNOSIS
Diagnosing testicular cancer is almost always simply confirming what the patient already knows. Through the signs and symptoms and the discovery of the lump in a testicle the patient usually is already aware that they most likely have testicular cancer. Confirming the diagnosis usually means tests such as a physical examination, laboratory testing, and an ultrasound examination. These tests are usually enough to confirm the diagnosis. There really aren’t many other causes for a lump inside the testicle except for testicular cancer. Occasionally a cyst may develop that is not cancerous, although this tends to be obvious to the patient. A biopsy will be the final determining factor at diagnosing testicular cancer.
There are two basic types of testicular cancer. The first type, known as Seminoma testicular cancer usually strikes men between the ages of 35 to55 and has a high survival rate. Nonseminoma testicular cancer tends to strike younger men and boys and creates a more difficult battle for the patient. While testicular cancer in general has a high survival rate, nonseminoma cancer is more difficult to beat.
Complications from testicular cancer may include losing a testicle. However, men do not need both testicles in order to be fertile, virile men. Even with the loss of both testicles, men can still be sexually active. However, if they want to father children, they made opt for freezing some of their sperm. Other fertility options may include injections, patches, and gels.
TESTICULAR CANCER TREATMENT
There are four basic treatment options for testicular cancer. These include chemotherapy, external beam radiation, radical inguinal orchiectomy, and a self donating bone marrow transplant. A radical inguinal orchiectomy is the removal of the affected testicle. In some cases, the lymph nodes in the abdominal region may be removed as well. A self donating bone marrow transplant involves the removal of bone marrow from the patient, which is the treated to kill cancer cells. The patient then undergoes normal rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. When it is deemed appropriate, the bone marrow is then re-introduced back into the patient’s body. Some patients opt to have an artificial testicle surgically implanted once they lose one to testicular cancer, although there is no physical or medical need for this.
Coping skills related to testicular cancer include the basic self care needs of nutritional therapy, and physical rest as well as listening to the body’s needs. However, most men benefit from counseling as they believe that testicular cancer affects their manhood and their ability to perform sexual intercourse. While this is not true, men sometimes need a little counseling to deal with the loss of a testicle.
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