What is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is cancerous cell growth that originates in the testicles (or testes). The testicles are the two small round organs enclosed in a skin sac — scrotum, hanging from each side of the penis. The testicles’ main function is to produce male sex hormones called androgens and sperm. This type of cancer is the leading cancer in men ages 15-35, but can occur at any age.
What Are the Causes of Testicular Cancer?
The causes of testicular cancer are largely unknown. There is still a lot of research that needs to be done in this area, but there are risk factors that may be connected.
The potential risk factors include:
- Undescended testicles
- Family history of testicular cancer
- Abnormalities in the gonads
- Hernias and injuries to the region
- Downs Syndrome
- White men are much more likely to get this cancer than Black and Asian men
Types of Testicular Cancer
Germ Cell Tumors – the two types of germ cell tumors are seminoma and nonseminomatous germ cell tumors. Seminoma tumors tend to develop and spread slower than the nonseminomatous variety. Germ cell tumors make up 95% of testicular cancer cases. The prognosis is often very good with this type of cancer.
Stromal Gonad Tumors — they affect the production of male sex hormones. Most of the tumors are benign and don’t spread throughout the body. It makes up 5% of the testicular tumors in adults and up to 20% of testicular tumors in children.
Treatment for Testicular Cancer
To treat testicular cancer, there are three main pathways of treatment: radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. The type of treatment is also dependent on the kind of tumor and severity.
Surveillance: With very early stages of seminoma testicular cancer, the recommended course of action is surveillance and careful observation with regular checkups and CT scans. Sometimes the removal of lymph nodes and chemotherapy will be considered.
For more advanced stages of the cancer, chemotherapy and radiation will be used. As a last resort, surgery may be required, in the way of removing a testicle. But overall the survival rate is very high at over 90%.