What is Testicular Cancer?

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, and with this, we would like to educate those reading about the importance of being mindful of the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer. 

What is Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer is a form a cancer that starts in the cells of a man’s testicles. The testicles are made up of many types of cells, each of which can develop into one or more types of cancer. It's important to know the type of cell the cancer started in and what kind of cancer it is because they differ in how they're treated and in their prognosis (outlook). Below are the types of testicular cancer, according to the American Cancer Society: 

Germ cell tumors:

  • More than 90% of cancers of the testicle start in cells known as germ cells. These are the cells that make sperm. The main types of germ cell tumors (GCTs) in the testicles are seminomas and non-seminomas.
  • These types occur about equally. Many testicular cancers contain both seminoma and non-seminoma cells. These mixed germ cell tumors are treated as non-seminomas because they grow and spread like non-seminomas.

Seminomas:

  • Seminomas tend to grow and spread more slowly than non-seminomas. The 2 main sub-types of these tumors are classical (or typical) seminomas and spermatocytic seminomas.
  • Classical seminoma: More than 95% of seminomas are classical. These usually occur in men between 25 and 45.
  • Some seminomas can increase blood levels of a protein called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). HCG can be checked with a simple blood test and is considered a tumor marker for certain types of testicular cancer. It can be used for diagnosis and to check how the patient is responding to treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

So what sorts of signs or symptoms should you be aware of for testicular cancer? It is first important to note that you may not have any signs at all. However, below are some of the most common symptoms of testicular cancer

  • A painless lump in the testicle (the most common sign)
  • A feeling of weight in the scrotum
  • Swelling of the testicle (with or without pain)
  • Pain or a dull ache in the testicle, scrotum or groin.

It is very important to note that any new or abnormal lump, or firm part of the testicle that you feel should be taken seriously. A trip to your primary care physician should be the first course of action you take. Then, if they suspect something unusual, they will refer you to a Urologist. 

The Urology Care Foundation stated that of the men who were found to have testicular cancer, 75 out of 100 complained of painless swelling of the testicle and about 17 out of 100 had some pain.

Testicular Cancer Statistics

For 2019, The American Cancer Society estimates the following number of cases and deaths for the disease in the United States: 

  • About 9,560 new cases of testicular cancer diagnosed
  • About 410 deaths from testicular cancer

While testicular cancer is not common, about 1 of every 250 males will develop testicular cancer, the incidence rate of testicular cancer has been increasing in the US and many other countries for several decades. 

Testicular cancer is most often found in younger men. The average age at the time of diagnosis of testicular cancer is about 33. However, about 6% of cases occur in children and teens, and about 8% occur in men over the age of 55.

Firelands is here for you

If you, or a loved one, is worried that they might have some signs or symptoms of testicular cancer, it is important that they call their primary care physician right away. If something is seriously wrong, waiting can make the problem worse, and harder to treat. If you do not have a primary care physician, Firelands Physician Group is here to help. They have compassionate doctors located conveniently throughout the area. Learn more at: firelandsphysiciangroup.com