The testicles are the male sex glands and produce testosterone
and sperm. Germ cells
within the testicles produce immature sperm that travel through a network of tubules (tiny tubes) and larger tubes into the epididymis
(a long coiled tube next to the testicles) where the sperm mature and are stored.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer
in men 20 to 35 years old.
Health history can affect the risk of testicular cancer.
Anything that increases the chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for testicular cancer include:
Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum.
Tests that examine the testicles and blood are used to detect (find) and diagnose testicular cancer.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
and history: 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. The testicles will be examined to check for lumps, swelling, or pain. A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues
and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.
Serum tumor marker test: A procedure in which a sample of blood
is examined to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood 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 tumor markers are used to detect testicular cancer:
Inguinal orchiectomy: 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.
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
Treatment for testicular cancer can 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.
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