What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is cancer of the testicles. The testicles are glands located inside the scrotum (sack of skin hanging behind the penis). Most testicular cancer starts in the sperm-making cells of the testicles. Testicular cancer occurs most commonly in men aged 15 to 39 years.
What increases my risk for testicular cancer?
- One or both of your testicles did not descend into the scrotum.
- You are Caucasian (white).
- You have a genetic disorder, such as Klinefelter syndrome.
- Your father or brother has had testicular cancer.
What are the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?
- A painless lump or change in how your testicle feels
- Your testicle becomes larger or smaller than before
- Swelling of your scrotum
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or in the groin
- Pain or discomfort in your testicle or scrotum
- Breast swelling or tenderness
How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
Your caregiver will examine you. He may check your testicles for swelling, tenderness, or lumps. He may also feel your abdomen. He may shine a small flashlight on your scrotum. This can help to see a lump in or on your testicle. You may need one or more of the following tests:
- Blood tests: These may be done to check for cancer markers.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures on a monitor. An ultrasound may be done to see your testicles and scrotum.
- CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your chest and abdomen. It may show if the cancer has spread. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
- Biopsy: Tissue from the testicle is tested to determine the type of testicular cancer.
- Lymphangiography: This procedure uses dye to see if the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes.
How is testicular cancer treated?
Testicular cancer is treated depending on the type, size, and location of the tumor. You may need more than one of the following:
- Surgery: A testicle that has cancer in it can be removed. Tissue from the testicle is tested to learn what type of cancer cells were growing in your testicle. If you have lymph nodes that have cancer in them, they may be removed also.
- Radiation therapy: This treatment uses x-rays or gamma rays to treat cancer. Radiation kills cancer cells and may stop the cancer from spreading.
- Chemotherapy: This medicine is used to treat cancer by killing cancer cells. Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink lymph nodes that have cancer in them.
What are the risks of testicular cancer?
Even with treatment, cancer may spread or come back. Some types of treatment can cause you to be infertile, or unable to father a child. After surgery, you may be at an increased risk for a blood clot. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. If the cancer is not treated, it may spread and become life-threatening.
Will testicular cancer affect my ability to have sex?
A man with one normal healthy testicle can still have sex and make sperm. Before treatment, ask your caregiver how your ability to have sex may change. Treatment can affect these abilities. Some men have their sperm removed and frozen so that they can father a child at a later time.
How should I do a testicular self-exam?
A testicular self-exam (TSE) can help you learn how your testicles normally look and feel. Ask your caregiver or oncologist for more information about a TSE and how often to do one.
- Look: Stand in front of a mirror and look at your scrotum. Look for changes in its shape, size, and color. It may be normal for one side of your scrotum to be larger or to hang lower than the other.
- Feel: Examine one testicle at a time. Put the thumbs of both hands in front of the testicle. Put the second (pointer) fingers behind the testicle. Gently roll each testicle between the thumbs and fingers of both hands. Feel for any lumps or changes in the testicle. It may be normal for one of your testicles to feel slightly larger than the other. Find the epididymis, a long, cord-like tube on top and in back of each testicle. Feel for any changes in the epididymis.
Where can I find more information?
- American Cancer Society
250 Williams Street
Atlanta , GA 30303
Phone: 1- 800 - 227-2345
Web Address: http://www.cancer.org
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- You have a fever.
- You are vomiting and cannot keep any food or liquids down.
- You feel lumps or other changes in your testicle.
- You are depressed and feel you cannot cope with your illness.
- You have pain that does not decrease or go away after you take your pain medicine.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care?
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You are confused or cannot think clearly.
- Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You cough up blood.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.