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Testicular cancer: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is cancer that starts in the testicles, the male reproductive glands located in the scrotum.

Testicular cancer: Incidence, age and sex

Testicular cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in young men. Over his lifetime, a man's risk of testicular cancer is roughly 1 in 250 (0.4%). It is most common among males aged 15–40 years. Teratomas tend to occur in younger men, with the peak incidence being between 20 and 35 years, whereas the peak incidence of seminoma is between 35 and 45 years.

Signs & symptoms of testicular cancer: Diagnosis

A sensation of heaviness occurs when the testes are two or three times its normal size, but only a minority of patients experience pain. The testis is enlarged, smooth, firm and heavy. Secondary retroperitoneal (near the kidney) deposits may be palpable; especially just above the umbilicus .There may be liver enlargement. Sometimes, an enlarged node above the left clavicle is the presenting sign. Occasionally, the predominant symptoms are those of spread of the disease -back pain, chest pain, dyspnoea and haemoptysis.

Causes and prevention of testicular cancer

The cause is not known. Maldescent of the testes predispose to malignancy. Other risk factors include inguinal hernia and mumps orchitis .Campaigns for regular testicular self-examination help raise awareness of the condition and may lead to earlier diagnosis.

Complications of testicular cancer

Testicular cancer may spread to other parts of the body. The most common sites include the abdomen, lungs, retroperitoneal area (the area near the kidneys) and the spine. The treatment of testicular cancer can cause a variety of complications. Radiotherapy may cause problems gaining or retaining erections, while chemotherapy may cause sterility. Men who have had testicular cancer also seem to be at a higher risk for developing leukemia and other types of cancers.

Testicular cancer: Treatment

Staging is an essential step in planning treatment. Orchidectomy (surgical removal of the testis) is essential to remove the primary tumour and to obtain histology. Seminomas are radiosensitive and excellent results have been obtained by irradiating stage 1 and 2 tumours. Cisplatin is used for patients with metastatic disease. Teratomas are less sensitive to radiation. Stage 1 tumours can be managed by monitoring the levels of serum, markers and by repeated CT. Teratomas at stages 2-4 are managed by chemotherapy. Cisplatin, methotrexate, bleomycin and Vincristine have been used in combination with great success.