What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is a relatively uncommon form of cancer that happens in the testicles. The testicles are part of the male reproductive system and are responsible for producing sperm and the male sex hormone, testosterone. Around 2,000 new cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year. Testicular cancer tends to primarily affect young and middle-aged men.
What causes testicular cancer?
The sole cause of testicular cancer is unknown, though certain variables are thought to play a role. These include:
- Family history
- An un-descended testicle
- Ethnicity: testicular cancer is most common among white men
- Carcinoma in situ (if this is left untreated it may develop into cancer)
Symptoms of testicular cancer
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump in one of the testicles. In most cases the lump is painless, but this may change. Other symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- Pain in the scrotum
- A feeling of weightiness in the scrotum
If cancer has spread symptoms, such as back pain, abdominal pain, coughing or breathing difficulties, may also develop.
Doctors urge men to examine their testicles on a regular basis and to see their GP if they do discover a lump. Generally lumps in the body are not cancerous, but it always a good idea to get them checked out.
How is testicular cancer diagnosed?
If you find a lump or you experience symptoms you should visit your GP, in order for a proper examination to be carried out. If they think you may have testicular cancer, they will then refer you to a specialist for further tests. Tests for testicular cancer include blood tests, ultrasound scans, CT or MRI scans and a chest X-ray. A definite diagnosis will be made through the analysis of these tests.
How is testicular cancer treated?
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy may all be used to treat testicular cancer, with surgery used to remove the affected testicle and chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be used if the cancer is more advanced.
What is the outlook for people with testicular cancer?
The outlook for testicular cancer is very good and survival rates are among the highest. 98 percent of men with testicular cancer will survive for at least 10 years after diagnosis.
Living with testicular cancer
Living with testicular cancer is very difficult and you may be worried about practical matters, in addition to struggling to cope with a range of different emotions. Many men may also have concerns about their fertility. However, most men are able to successfully father children after having treatment for testicular cancer. If you need help, support or information, you can make contact with one of the UK cancer charities for additional support.