In most cases, the exact cause of this cancer remains undetermined. It is known that an abnormal alteration in healthy cells is responsible for the cancer, but what triggers this is often not identified. When this happens to the cells, they start to divide and grow out of control. As the increase in cells continues, they accumulate into a tumor.
Almost all cancers in the testicles start in the germ cells. These are the cells that are responsible for the production of immature sperm. However, it is not known why these cells become abnormal and result in cancer development.
There are certain risk factors that have been identified that might increase a patient’s chance of testicle cancer, including:
Having an undescended testicle
Having a family history of this cancer
Abnormal testicle developments, such as with conditions like Klinefelter syndrome
Being ages 15 to 35
In most cases, this cancer will only be present in one testicle. The symptoms will generally only affect the testicle where the cancer is present. It may cause the following symptoms:
Enlargement or lump
Dull ache in the groin or abdomen
Discomfort or pain
Feeling of heaviness
Sudden collection of fluid
Breast tenderness or enlargement
The first step is making sure that the patient has an accurate diagnosis. It is also important to determine which type of testicle cancer is present. There are two types:
Nonseminoma: This type tends to occur earlier in life and there are multiple tumor types, including embryonal carcinoma, choriocarcinoma, yolk sac tumor and teratoma. This type tends to spread more rapidly.
Seminoma: This type can affect men of all ages. If an older man develops this type of cancer, it is usually this kind. In general, this type is not as aggressive.
Once this is done, the doctor will perform additional tests to see what stage the cancer is at.
Surgery might be recommended. It can be performed to remove the cancerous testicle. This can be done for almost all types and stages of this cancer. If the cancer has spread, doctors might also remove a lymph node that is nearby.
Radiation to kill the cancerous cells by using beams of high-powered energy is another common option. It might be used alone for a seminoma. It may also be used after surgery to eradicate any leftover cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be done alone or after a patient has a lymph node removed. The drug used will depend on cancer type and stage.