Testicular Cancer: Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatments

Written by Dave Rich

On September 6, 2012

If you’re experiencing testicle swelling, testicle lumps or testicular pain, you may wonder if you have cancer. This can be pretty scary for any guy to go through. Let’s take a look at the testicles, the different types of testicular cancer, risk factors, and what you can do to treat it.
What are the Testicles?
The testicles are part of the male reproductive system. Usually smaller than a golf ball in most males, testicles are contained in a sac called the scrotum. The testicles are responsible for making the male hormone, testosterone. They also produce sperm.
What is Testicular Cancer?
90% of testicular cancers develop from the sperm-producing cells called germ cells. The two main types of germ cell tumors are seminomas and non-seminomas. Among the seminomas, there are two basic types:

  • Classical Seminoma – A classical seminoma accounts for 95% of cases of testicular cancer between men ages 25 to 45.
  • Spermaocytic Seminoma – Spermaocytic seminoma commonly occurs in older men and is less likely to spread to other parts of the body like a classical seminoma.

This is the type of testicular cancer that develops in younger men under the age of 30. There are four main kinds of non-seminoma tumors:

  1. Embryonal Carcinoma – Accounts for 40% cases of testicular cancer and can rapidly spread outside the testicle to other parts of the body.
  1. Yolk Sac Carcinoma – This type of cancer commonly occurs in children and responds well to chemotherapy treatment, even if they spread.
  2. Choriocarinoma – This type of testicular cancer is aggressive and tends to spread quickly to other parts of the body.
  1. Teratoma – Mature teratomas are usually benign and do not spread to the rest of the body. Immature teratomas, however, often metastasize (spread) outside the testicle.

Carcinoma in Situ
This slow-growing type of testicular cancer can take approximately 5 years to progress into a form of invasive cancer.
Stromal Tumors

  • Leydig Cell Tumors – If caught early, Leydig cell tumors are easily cured with surgery. If they spread, however, they do not respond well to radiation or chemotherapy.
  • Sertoli Cell Tumors – These tumors are usually benign but if they spread to other parts of the body, they usually don’t respond well to conventional treatment.

Secondary Testicular Tumors
With secondary testicular tumors, the cancer begins in another organ and spreads to the testicles. Surgical removal followed by chemotherapy or radiation is the common treatment.
Risk Factors for Testicular Cancer
A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting cancer. Here are some common risk factors for testicular cancer:

  • Family History of Testicular Cancer – There is only a slight increased risk of testicular cancer if a father or brother has the disease.
  • HIV Infection – Due to a depleted immune system, men infected with the HIV virus are at increased risk for developing testicular cancer.
  • Undescended Testicle – Testicles naturally descend from the abdomen to the scrotum before birth. In rare instances, testicles stay in the abdomen and can increase cancer risk.
  • Age – Most forms of testicular cancer occur in young men ages of 20 – 34.
  • Body Size – Certain research has indicated that tall men may be at increase risk for this common cancer.
  • Prior Trauma – Prior trauma such as a blow to the testicle or scrotum may also increase testicular cancer risk.
  • Race and Ethnicity – White men living in theUnited States have the highest risk for developing this cancer and black men living inAfrica have the lowest risk.

Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
Cancer usually affects only one testicle so you may notice certain symptoms occurring there. Here are some symptoms you might want to watch out for:

  • A Heavy Feeling in the Scrotum
  • Testicular Pain
  • Dull Ache in the Groin or Abdomen
  • Testicle Swelling
  • Collected Fluid in the Scrotum
  • Testicle Lumps

If you’re experiencing testicle swelling or testicular pain, you may wonder if you have cancer and what type of treatment you’ll have to go through.

  • Conventional

To determine if your testicle lumps are a form of cancer, your doctor will do a preliminary examination and perform blood tests to check for cancer antibodies in your system. The type of treatment you receive will depend on the type of cancer you have. The three most common conventional treatments for testicular cancer are: Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

  • Natural

The most common natural treatment for any type of cancer is nutritional therapy. Some men use nutritional therapy in conjunction with conventional treatments while some opt to try natural therapies on their own.

Juicing, for example, is a primary component in a popular alternative cancer treatment called the Gerson Therapy. Juicing raw, organic fruits and vegetables releases essential nutrients directly into your body without having to be broken down and processed by the digestive system.
Completely cutting processed food from your diet and eating a whole-food diet filled with organic fruits, vegetables, and wild-caught fish is another commonly-recommended natural approach to treating cancer.
The behind this approach is not to cure the disease through synthetic chemicals or surgery but to encourage the body’s incredible ability to heal itself.
Doing your own research into testicular cancer is a good idea but it’s also important to talk with your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms. Remember, you’re always in control. If you’re interested in natural remedies or a second opinion, ask for one. Testicle swelling or testicle lumps could be a sign of something serious but it’s a wise idea to know all your options before you proceed.

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