Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the testicles, two golf ball sized glands that produce sperm and testosterone and are part of the male reproductive system.
Over 90% of all testicular cancers develop in germ cells or the cells that make sperm. Tumors that grow from these cells are classified as seminoma or nonseminoma. Most germ cell testicular cancers are seminoma, the slower growing type of tumor that is less likely to metastasize. About 5% of all testicular cancers are stromal tumors. They develop in the hormone-producing tissues of the testicles.
Testicular cancer can also be the results of spread or metastasis of cancer from another part of the body. Lymphoma, or cancer of the lymph system, is the most common secondary cause of testicular cancer.
Testicular Cancer Facts and Statistics
- In 2015, there will be an expected 8,430 new cases of testicular cancer in the United States.
- There will be about 380 deaths from testicular cancer in the United States in 2015.
- Testicular cancer is rare—only 1 in every 263 men will develop testicular cancer.
- The average age of testicular cancer diagnosis is 33 years old.
- The average five-year survival rate is over 95%. Once testicular cancer has spread to other more, distant parts of the body, the survival rate decreases to 73%.
- Most testicular cancers are diagnosed before spreading to other parts of the body.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
There are few risk factors associated with testicular cancer. There are no lifestyle or environmental risk factors however. Most men diagnosed with testicular cancer have few if any of the risk factors. Risk factors include:
- Undescended testicle—typically the testicles descend from the abdomen before birth. About 3% of boys experience an undescended testicle. Even with corrective surgery, undescended testicle remains a risk factor in testicular cancer.
- Personal or family history of testicular cancer.
- Being between 20 and 34 years old
Most testicular cancer can be caught early. The American Cancer Society recommends testing for testicular cancer during an annual physical exam. A formal physical exam or self-screening can reveal abnormal lumps on the testicles. Other symptoms include:
- Pain or swelling in the testicle
- Heaviness in the scrotum
- Change in size or shape of the testicle
- Back pain
- Fluid build-up under the scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
- Ache in the lower abdomen or groin
Diagnosing Testicular Cancer
Many doctors recommend regular self-exams for testicular cancer. The American Cancer Society provides the following guidelines for self-exams:
The best time for you to examine your testicles is during or after a bath or shower when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed. Hold your penis out of the way and examine each testicle separately. Hold your testicle between your thumbs and fingers with both hands and roll it gently between your fingers. Look and feel for any hard lumps or nodules (smooth rounded masses) or any change in the size, shape, or consistency of your testicles.
It's normal for one testicle to be slightly larger than the other, and for one to hang lower than the other. You should also be aware that each normal testicle has a small, coiled tube called the epididymis that can feel like a small bump on the upper or middle outer side of the testis. Normal testicles also contain blood vessels, supporting tissues, and tubes that carry sperm. Some men may confuse these with abnormal lumps at first. If you have any concerns, ask your doctor.
If you suspect testicular cancer or if you find any unusual lumps during self-examination, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Further diagnostic tests, include imaging scans like ultrasounds, x-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans to detect tumors and blood tests to detect elevated levels of cancerous substances. Doctors can also perform a biopsy to examine tissue for cancerous cells.
Testicular Cancer Treatment
The primary treatment for testicular cancer is an orchiectomy, or surgically removing the affected testicle. To perform this surgery, doctors make an incision in the groin. About 98% of all testicular cancer cases occur in only one testicle, and removing one testicle will not impair a man's natural abilities. Some men may choose to get a prosthesis after surgery. Doctors can also surgically remove nearby lymph nodes that may be cancerous.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may also be used instead of or after surgery to destroy cancer cells.
Lawsuits For Testicular Cancer Malpractice In Maryland
Testicular cancer is very treatable if detected and diagnosed early. Although it has few risk factors, doctors should know all risk factors and symptoms, and should recommend regular physical examinations. Failing to perform examinations and diagnostic tests, misinterpreting the results of tests, or failing to communicate and act on these results can have dire consequences for the patient.
If your testicular cancer was mishandled by a health care provider, you may be eligible for compensation. Malpractice in the management of testicular cancer can result in unnecessary injuries and can even cause the death of the patient.
Call Gilman & Bedigian to learn more about your legal options. Our experienced attorneys are committed to getting the result you deserve.