Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is one of the less common cancers that usually affects men between the age of 15 to 49. Only around 1% of all cancer diagnosis in men is testicular (this is around 2,300 men in the UK every year).

Cancer occurs when the genetics in cells change and therefore develop uncontrollably. Testicular cancer usually affects only one of the testicles and usually causes swelling that is painless.

The two most common types of testicular cancer are:

  1. Seminomas – this accounts for around 40-45% of all cases

  2. Non-seminomas – which includes teratomas, embryonal carcinomas, choriocarcinomas and yolk sac tumours which equate for the other testicular cancer cases.

The exact cause of testicular cancer is unknown, however, there are some factors that may increase your risk of developing cancer;

  • Undescended testicles – men that have undescended testicles are 3 times more likely to get testicular cancer than those that descended by their first birthday.

  • Family history - having a close relative that has had testicular cancer, puts you at an increased risk of developing testicular cancer. For example, if you father has had it then you are 4 times more likely to get it, however if your brother has had it then you are 8 times more likely to get it.

  • Previous history of testicular cancer – if you have had cancer in one of your testicles, then you are at an increased risk of developing it in your second testicle, so it is important that you always attend your follow up appointments.

Common symptoms that patients present with include:

  • Swelling in the testicles

  • Lumps in the testicles

  • Increased firmness in the testicles

  • The difference in the size of the testicles

  • A dull ache or sharp pain in the testicles, that may come and go

  • Once testicular cancer has been diagnosed, it will be treated, which is commonly a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery; the treatment option that you are given will vary depending on the type and stage of cancer.

The first treatment option for all cases is to remove the affected testicle. This procedure is called an orchidectomy. After the surgery you may be offered radiotherapy or chemotherapy, your consultant will discuss all of this with you prior to any surgical procedures.

If you are concerned about testicular cancer and have noticed some changes in your own testicles then please don't hesitate to book an initial appointment with us.

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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