Although there is no known cause for cancer of the testicles, several factors can contribute to the risk of testicular cancer:
History of cancer in the testicles – if a male had cancer in one testicle, there is an increased likelihood the other testicle will develop cancer.
Undescended testicle at birth – regardless if surgically corrected, there is an increased risk for cancer to occur in the testicle not descended at birth.
Family history of testicular cancer – a man whose brother or father may have had cancer of the testicles has a greater risk of developing it himself.
Race/Ethnicity – Caucasians are at greater risk for developing testicular cancer than any other ethnic group in the United States. Within Caucasians, men of Scandinavian descent have the highest rate. In the last 40 years, testicular cancer rates in Caucasians has doubled for no identifiable reason.
Congenital abnormalities – Men with a hernia in the groin area, and those having abnormalities at birth involving the kidneys, testicles or penis are at increased risk to develop testicular cancer.
Signs or Symptoms
Usually, a lump in the testicles is the first sign of testicular cancer. There may be pain or discomfort in the testicles. A feeling of heaviness or swelling of the scrotum, or a hardness in the testicle might be present. Dull aching occurring in the lower abdomen, groin, or back is possible. Any enlargement or change in the way a testicle feels is another symptom. Enlargement of the breasts or loss of sexual desire may signal cancer is present. Any fluid that suddenly collects in the scrotum is another sign of potential testicular cancer.
Any lump found in the testicles is reason for an ultrasound. An ultrasound of the scrotum and testicles serves to determine whether the lump contains fluid or solid matter. It also discovers whether the lump is inside or outside of the testicle.
Testing blood samples will measure tumor level markers. Cancer may be present if those levels are elevated.
Testicular cancer treatment begins with removing the cancerous testicle. Surgical options may include minimally invasive robotic or standard surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are standard treatment following surgery.
Cancers in the testicle are classified within one of two tumor types. Seminomas, which account for 50 percent of all testicular cancer types, are slow growing and highly responsive to treatment. Nonseminomas are a faster growing testicular tumor that spreads quickly. Treatment for the latter, faster growing type typically includes removing the lymph nodes behind the intestines.
Removal of the testicle does not affect a man’s reproduction capabilities, as the remaining testicle produces sperm. A prosthetic testicle can be placed in the scrotum so there will be no difference in the look or feel of the testicles.