Tami Griffith – Know the signs of testicular cancer
November 2, 2009
Testicular Cancer is rare but it does appear to be on the rise. According to studies, one type of Testicular Cancer – Germ cell tumors– rose 44 percent from the mid ’70s and the mid ’90s. Another type of testicular cancer increased 62 percent during a similar time period.
Why is there an increase in the incidence of Testicular Cancer?
Researchers are unsure. There seems to be a correlation between in utero exposure to DES (diethylstilbestrol), and early exposure to viruses or other environmental factors. Diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol seem to play a part as well.
What are the types of Testicular Cancer?
Most of the testicular malignancies are called Germ-cell tumors- 95 percent of testicular cancer is in this category. There are two types of tumors in this group. Seminomas and non-seminomatous. These tumor are rare in males before reaching puberty.
Leydig Cell Tumor accounts for 2 percent of testicular tumors, however, only 10 percent of those are found to be malignant. This is a disease found in some males ages 6-10 who have been diagnosed with precocious puberty as well as 25-35 yr. olds with testicular mass, gynocomastia, impotence, and decreased libido.
Other cause of testicular cancer include: sex-cord tomors, phymphomas, and metastatic cancers.
What are the signs and symptoms of this type of Cancer?
1. A nodule is noted in the testicular area. This may feel firm and rubbery or irregularly shaped with indistinct borders. Testicular cancer usually affects one testicle.
2. A change in the shape or size of the testicle. It is normal for one testicle to be of a different size than the other.
3. 30-40 percent of males complain of a dull ache or heavy sensation in the lower abdomen or scrotal area.
4. 10 percent complain of pain
5. 5 percent have gynecomastia (enlargement of breast tissue in males) This is due in part to the production of hcg ( Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone ). Hcg is found in the cells of the testicular tumor
6. Lab tests may indicate an increase in serum levels of prolactin, estrogens, and androgens as well. Hyperthyroidism may be noted also due to the relationship of hcg and the thyroid stimulating hormone.
7. 10 percent of testicular cancer is due to metastasis from some other part of the body: Cough/shortness of breath (pulmonary metastasis); neck mass ( lymph node involvment); anorexia; nausea; vomiting; GI bleeding (duodenal metastasis); bone pain (skeletal metastasis).
What are the Risk Factors for Testicular Cancer?
10 percent of all patients diagnosed with Testicular Cancer have an undescended testicle. Family history – brother or dad with Testicular Cancer; Diagnosis of HIV; Elevated cholesterol; Dx. Of Klipefelter’s syndrome – this is a genetic illness where the male has an xtra X chromosone.
How do you diagnose this type of Cancer?
Scrotal ultrasound is the diagnostic tool of choice. A nodule as small as 1-2 mm can be seen by ultrasound.If needed, radiology will be used also. CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis may be obtained, and a chest x-ray.
What is the outlook on Testicular Cancer?
The survival rate has greatly increased since the late 1970’s. Prior to 1970, 11% of all cancer deaths in males ages 25-34 were due to testicular cancer. At that time, the 5 yr survival rate was 645.
Currently, the 5 yr. survival rate is about 95 percent.
How can I prevent Testicular cancer for myself and my son?
Set up a set time once a month to perform a testicular exam. Teach your son the importance of checking himself once a month. If you notice any lump, change in shape or size, back pain, abdominal or scrotal pressure, be evaluated by your primary care provider.
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