Q & A

What is testicular cancer?

Cancer is the continual growth of abnormal cells within various parts of the body.  Testicular cancer typically arises in the area of the testicles that produce sperm, called germ cells.  This can occur in one or both testicles.  As the cancer continues to grow, you may notice swelling in your scrotum, a hard painless nodule on the testicle or possibly pain at the site of your testicle, scrotum or lower abdomen. If testicular cancer is caught early, there is nearly a 100% survival rate.

Who is most at risk?

Men between the ages of 15 and 49 are at the highest risk; however, it is possible to get testicular cancer outside of this age range.  If there is a family history of testicular cancer or if you have a history of abnormalities with your testicles, you should perform self-exams more frequently.

What are the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer?

Early signs and symptoms can include a painless or persistent lump on your testicle, swelling or pain on your testicle, a feeling of heaviness in your abdomen, or swelling in the lymph nodes in your groin, abdomen or neck.  Later or unusual signs include swelling of your abdomen, back pain, shortness of breath, breast tenderness or enlargement, or excessive hair growth (more easily noted in younger boys).

How do I get assessed?

Start by assessing yourself.  A testicular self-exam is a quick way to familiarize yourself with the texture, size and weight of your testicles, allowing you to have a starting point to notice any differences if they arise.  If you notice any differences or are unclear if there are abnormalities, inform your family doctor to allow for a thorough assessment. 

How often should I do a Testicular Self-Exam?

You should complete a self-exam monthly.  The majority of testicular cancers are found by patients or their partners so it is extremely important for you to be comfortable with it.

What are the treatment options?

Depending on the stage that the testicular cancer is in, treatment options may vary or there may be a combination of therapies.  In early stage testicular cancers, initial treatment may be close observation for a duration of time or surgery to remove the testicle or the lymph nodes in the abdomen.  Other treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant. 

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