Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting men ages 15 to 35. It is also the most curable form of cancer, with a nearly 100% cure rate when detected early. Approximately 8,500 men in the United States are diagnosed each year. Overall, testicular cancer strikes about one man out of every 250.
We don’t know exactly what causes testicular cancer, but there are several factors that increase risk. For example, Caucasian men between the ages of 15 and 35 have the highest risk. The rate of diagnosis in white men is 4.5 times higher than in black men. Risks also increase if you have a family history of the disease, history of an undescended testicle, or abnormal development of the testicles.
Testicular Cancer Symptoms
The predominant symptom of this type of cancer is a painless lump, swelling, or hardness on the testicle. In early stages, the lump is usually about the size of a pea. About 30 to 40% of patients also complain of a dull pain in the scrotum, anal area, or abdomen. Other signs of testicular cancer include:
+ A change in the way a testicle feels
+ Buildup of fluid in the scrotum
+ Pain in the lower back or abdomen
+ Enlargement or tenderness of breast tissue
+ Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
+ Pain or discomfort, with or without swelling, in testicles or scrotum
Symptoms of testicular cancer in more advanced stages can include coughing or shortness of breath, stomach discomfort such as nausea or vomiting, lower back pain, and leg swelling.
Xenoestrogens and Testicular Cancer
Xenoestrogens are chemicals in the environment that mimic the effects of estrogen. These chemicals are present everywhere in our world today, from plastic water bottles to pesticides. Over the years, our exposure to xenoestrogens has increased, and incidentally, testicular cancer rates have, as well. This is problematic because xenoestrogens disrupt normal functions of testosterone, therefore causing a decline in sperm count and rise in testicular cancer.
Testicular Cancer Treatment
Testicular cancer is highly treatable, with a nearly perfect success rate when treated early. The exact course of treatment varies depending on the type of cancer cells and stage of cancer.
Typical treatment involves the removal of one or both testicles followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy beams of radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy is the use of intravenous drugs, usually given in five-day cycles, to kill off cancer cells and prevent its return. Both treatments also affect healthy cells. This results in a variety of side effects such as hair loss, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and interference with sperm production.
Testicular Cancer Survival Rate
Cancer survival rates are generally measured in terms of those who go on to live five years or longer after being diagnosed and treated for cancer. The survival rates for testicular cancer are divided into three groups based on the stage the cancer was in when diagnosed and treated. The three stages and their survival rates are:
Localized – 99% survival rate. Stage I cancer. The cancer exists only in the testicle(s).
Regional – 96% survival rate. Stage II and some stage III cancers. The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and tissues.
Distant – 73% survival rate. Stage III cancer. The cancer has spread to organs or lymph nodes away from the tumor.
Survival rates are based on the data of large numbers of people who’ve had testicular cancer, but they can not predict the outcome of any specific case. Other factors such as age, general health, and how the cancer responds to treatment will all have an effect as well.