7 Surprising Facts About Testicular Cancer
- Testicular cancer can strike at any age.Many people believe testicular cancer affects only adult men, but boys can get this type of cancer too. This is why all boys should learn about testicular cancer as they reach puberty, how to check themselves, and what to do if they discover anything unusual. Testicular cancer affects one out of every 250 males in the United States, but early detection and treatment makes it one of the most curable cancers. Learn more about testicular cancer and some facts you may not know.
- 1. Doctors don’t know what causes testicular cancers.Doctors don’t understand yet why some men get testicular cancer and others don’t. However, they do know, there are some risk factors that increase the chances of developing the cancer. These risks include being born with undescended testicles, abnormal testicle development, a family history of testicular cancer, and age. Testicular cancer occurs most often among men between ages 15 and 35, although younger and older males can get it too. Finally, more white men than non-white men get testicular cancer.
- 2. Other cancers can spread to your testicles.Cancer that starts in a testicle is called a primary testicular cancer. When cancer in another part of your body metastasizes, or spreads, it can affect your organs, like your liver or lungs, or certain glands, like your testicles. These are secondary tumors. Although it’s rare, if cancer does spread to the testes (testicles), it’s typically a blood-related cancer, like lymphoma or leukemia.
- 3. The most common sign of testicular cancer is a lump.Boys should be taught how to do a testicular self-examination because the most common testicular cancer symptom is a lump that shouldn’t be there. Other symptoms include pain or discomfort in one or both testicles or in the scrotum, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, pain or ache in the groin or abdomen, swelling or tenderness in the breast area, and a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum.
- 4. Surgery is typically the first treatment option for testicular cancer.Depending on the type of cancer, treatment can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy or surgery. Testicular cancer treatment usually starts with surgery to remove the testicle since that is also the process for determining the type and stage of the cancer. Once the testicle and cancerous cells are removed, your doctor will recommend further treatment, if needed.
- 5. Fertility isn’t usually affected if one testicle is left intact.If you only have surgery and are left with one healthy testicle, your fertility shouldn’t be affected. But if your oncologist needs to remove both testicles, or recommends chemotherapy or radiotherapy, you may want to store sperm in a sperm bank beforehand, as those treatments can lead to infertility. Speak to your doctor about this option if you do wish to have children later on in life.
- 6. Prosthetic testicles are an option.Having one or both testicles removed can be challenging from an emotional point of view. If this is a concern for you, there are prosthetic testicles that can be implanted to restore appearance. These prostheses are usually made of silicone rubber and filled with a gel or saltwater (saline). They are available in different sizes and weights to ensure a close match to the natural testicle.
- 7. Testicular cancer has a high survival rate.Regular self-examination can help find testicular cancer before it progresses. The earlier it’s found, the faster and more effectively it can be treated. In the U.S., early-detected local testicular cancer has a 95% five-year survival rate, meaning 95% of men live five years past their diagnosis. If the cancer is stage II, meaning it’s spread to the lymph nodes in the pelvis, the 5-year survival rate is 73%. The prognosis drops to 50% with more advanced cancer, but of the more than 9,000 men diagnosed with testicular cancer within a year, about 400 will ultimately die from the disease. Keep in mind, the survival rate for any cancer is a statistic based on data from past cases. It does not reflect current diagnoses and current treatments.
7 Surprising Facts About Testicular Cancer