Around 2400 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer in the UK each year. Around 47 percent of men diagnosed will be under the age of 35 and around 60 young men will die of testicular cancer each year. There are two main types of testicular cancer which are seminoma and non seminoma. Both develop from germ cells in the testicles and that is why testicular cancer is sometimes referred to as germ cell tumours. The main symptom of testicular cancer includes swelling or a lump in the testicle – it could also be a dull pain or heaviness in the scrotum.
We know early and accurate diagnosis saves lives in cancer
Doctor Elizabeth Shephard of the University of Exeter Medical School
As the cancer spreads, the main symptoms to look out for include a pain in the back, breathlessness or difficulty swallowing as the lymph nodes in the chest are affected, and tenderness or swelling in the nipple.
Your doctor will either suggest blood tests, an ultrasound scan, MRI scan and then potentially surgery to remove the testicle.
A 2018 study identified the highest risk symptoms that can indicate testicular cancer.
Published in the British Journal of General Practice it found that testicular swelling was the biggest risk factor.
The study compared anonymised patient records of 1,398 men with testicular cancer to 4,956 controls in the year before their diagnosis and determined which symptoms were associated with a higher risk of the disease.
Doctor Elizabeth Shephard of the University of Exeter Medical School said: “We know early and accurate diagnosis saves lives in cancer. The findings of our study give greater clarity on which patients GPs should refer for further investigation for suspected testicular cancer in order to get the best outcome for patients.”
Causes of testicular cancer:
- Having undescended testicles is one of the most important risk factors to testicular cancer and increases your risk.
- If you have had testicular cancer already, your risk of developing a cancer in the other testicle is 12 to 18 times.
- Having a family history of testicular cancer will put yourself more at risk – if your father had testicular cancer then you are around four times more likely to develop the condition yourself.
- Men who are born with an abnormality of the penis and urethra called hypospadias are more likely to develop testicular cancer.
Other possible factors include:
- Men who are taller than average have a slight increase in the risk of developing testicular cancer.
- Twins have an increased risk of testicular cancer, especially identical twins.
- A build-up of calcium in the testicles called microlithiasis. Some studies have shown that in certain circumstances a small percentage of men with this condition may go on to develop testicular cancer.
Surgery is the first treatment for testicular cancer and after surgery you will either undergo surveillance, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Survival for testicular cancer is very high and nearly all men do survive the disease, the outlook is one of the best for all cancers. Having said that, with most diseases, early detection is key and you should speak with your doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms especially in your testicular or scrotum area.
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