Testicular cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control in testicles. It is very common and highly curable, especially if it is found early.
Most of the time, this cancer starts in the cells that make sperm, called germ cells. The two main germ cell cancers are seminomas and nonseminomas. Seminomas grow and spread slowly and respond to radiation therapy. But nonseminomas grow and spread quickly.
Experts don’t know what causes this cancer. Problems like having an undescended testicle or Klinefelter syndrome may increase your risk of testicular cancer. But most men who get it don’t have any risk factors.
What are the symptoms?
In most cases, the first sign of testicular cancer is a change in the size or shape of one or both testicles. Other common symptoms include:
- A pea-sized lump or swelling in the scrotum that may or may not be painful
- A heavy feeling in the scrotum
- A dull pain or feeling of pressure in the lower belly or groin
If unnoticed or untreated, testicular cancer can spread to other parts of your body. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend making an appointment with one of our primary care doctors.
How is testicular cancer diagnosed and treated?
Most men find testicular cancer during a self-exam. Or a doctor may find it during a routine physical exam. Surgery to remove the testicle is the first step. For some men, surgery is the only treatment needed. But the type and stage of your cancer will help your doctor decide if more treatment is needed. Some of the treatments include surveillance, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Nearly all men with testicular cancer have surgery. This is one of the most curable forms of cancer, especially in its early stages.
How will testicular cancer affect me?
In most cases, removing the testicle doesn’t cause long-term sexual problems or make you unable to father kids. But if you had these problems before treatment, surgery may make them worse. And other treatments may cause you to become infertile. You may want to consider saving sperm in a sperm bank. Some men choose to get an artificial testicle.
At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we approach cancer treatment by understanding the impact it has both physically and mentally.