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Urinary Tract Cancers

Testicular Cancer

With an early diagnosis and quick treatment, testicular cancer is highly treatable and most often curable. Though it's a very uncommon cancer, it most frequently occurs in younger men. Sexual function and, in most cases, fertility should not be impaired after the removal of one testicle.

Risk Factors

There are no known risk factors for testicular cancer. It only strikes about three in every 100,000 men, most commonly those in the 20-34 age group.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless swelling or enlargement of the testicle. About ten percent of men with testicular cancer report pain in the region, and some experience a dull ache in the area of the lump.

Since the cancer can spread swiftly, it's important to immediately seek an appointment with a urologist or general practitioner when you feel a lump or experience pain in and around the testes.

The easiest way to discover a lump is to conduct a periodic (monthly) testicular self-exam. This is best conducted after a warm bath or when the scrotum is otherwise relaxed.

Diagnosis

Your urologist might schedule a scrotal ultrasound in order to confirm the presence of a lump. The next step is a blood sample. Cancer of this type leaves tumor markers, which are proteins detectable in the blood as a result of testicular cancer.

Treatment Options

Surgery

A tumorous testicle is surgically removed through a small incision in the groin.

What To Expect Post-Surgery

Removal of one testicle should have no long-term effect on sexual function or fertility. The one remaining testicle should produce a sufficient supply of testosterone. Because lymph node removal and additional therapy might be necessary, which can affect fertility, it is commonly recommended that sperm banking be considered prior to removal of the testicle.

If the surrounding lymph nodes are removed, a small number of patients experience problems ejaculating, but there are medications available to treat this condition. Most patients will experience a normal erection, but sperm count might be low.

Follow Up

Follow-up treatment can include:

Treatment will depend on the extent of the disease and the cell type of the cancer.  If your cancer is of a more aggressive stage, removal of the adjoining lymph nodes might be necessary.

Testicular cancer patients should expect to undergo periodic medical exams over the next five years. And since there is a somewhat elevated risk of developing a second tumor, be sure to continue to conduct regular testicular self-exams.

Cancers of the urological system have varying risk factors, symptoms, treatments and outcomes. Please use the following links for more information about Bladder Cancer, Kidney Cancer, and Prostate Cancer.

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This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Feb 07, 2006

Martin I Resnick, MD Martin I Resnick, MD
Formerly, Professor of Urology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University