Cancer Treatment - Testicular Cancer
Why Choose Us for Testicular Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
The men’s health physicians at Minnesota Urology have experience with tests and procedures needed to fight testicular cancer. Contact one of our urologists to learn more about testicular cancer treatment and what options may be available to you.
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About Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles. While testicular cancer can occur at any age, it is the most common cancer in men 20 to 35 years old. Thankfully, with advances to medical care, the vast majority of testicular cancer can be successfully treated.
The testicles are two egg-shaped glands located inside the scrotum, the sac of loose skin that lies directly below the penis. The testicles are held within the scrotum by the spermatic cord, which also contains the vas deferens (responsible for delivering sperm to the penis), as well as vessels and nerves of the testicles.
The testicles are the male sex glands that produce testosterone and sperm. Germ cells within the testicles produce immature sperm that travel through a network of tubules and larger tubes into the epididymis, which is a long, coiled tube next to the testicles, where the sperm mature and are stored.
Almost all testicular cancers start in the germ cells. The two main types of testicular germ cell tumors are seminomas and nonseminomas. The type of cancer that has formed determines the best means for effective treatment.
Can health history affect the risk of developing testicular cancer?
Anything that increases the chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get cancer, and not having risk factors doesn’t mean you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. Risk factors for testicular cancer include:
- A history of an undescended testicle, one that did not naturally drop into place
- Abnormal development of the testicles
- Personal history of testicular cancer
- Family history of testicular cancer, especially in a father or brother
What are possible signs of testicular cancer?
These and other symptoms may be caused by testicular cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A urologist should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:
- A lump or swelling in either testicle, regardless of any associated pain
- A change in how the testicle feels
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin
- A sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum, leading to swelling
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
What tests are used to examine the testicles and blood to detect and diagnose testicular cancer?
Physical exam and history: A complete history of your health habits, past illnesses, and treatments will be taken. An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual, will also be performed. The testicles will be examined to check for lumps, swelling, or pain.
Ultrasound exam: This is a procedure in which high-energy sound waves are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. These echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram or ultrasound.
Serum tumor marker test: This is a procedure in which a sample of blood is examined to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the bloodstream by organs, tissues, or tumor cells in the body. Certain substances are linked to specific types of cancer when found in increased levels in the blood. These are called tumor markers. The following three tumor markers are used to detect testicular cancer: alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). Tumor marker levels are measured before surgery or biopsy to help diagnose testicular cancer.
Surgery: Radical inguinal orchiectomy and biopsy is a procedure to remove the entire testicle through an incision in the groin. A tissue sample from the testicle is then viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells. The surgeon does not cut through the scrotum into the testicle to remove a sample of tissue for biopsy, because if cancer is present, this procedure could cause it to spread into the scrotum and lymph nodes. It’s important to choose a surgeon who has experience with this kind of surgery. If cancer is found, the cell type (seminoma or nonseminoma) is determined in order to help plan treatment.
The prognosis and treatment options depend on the following:
- Stage of the cancer, whether it is in or near the testicle or has spread to other places in the body, as well as blood levels of AFP, β-hCG, and LDH
- Type of cancer
- Size of the tumor
- Number and size of associated lymph nodes
It is important to remember that the vast majority of testicular cancers can usually be cured.
Can treatment for testicular cancer cause infertility?
- Certain treatments for testicular cancer can cause infertility that may be permanent. Patients who may wish to have children should consider sperm banking before having treatment. Sperm banking is the process of freezing sperm and storing it for later use. Contact one of the experts at Minnesota Urology to learn more about testicular cancer treatment and what options may be available to you.
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