Testicular Cancer

Condition

Testicular cancer is relatively rare and is highly treatable when detected early. It usually affects men between the ages of 15 and 35. In other words, it strikes a demographic that is less likely to see a doctor regularly and might assume cancer only affects older people.

What is Testicular Cancer?

Your testicles are a part of the male reproductive system. They have two primary functions: to make sperm, which is needed to fertilize an egg cell, and to make hormones, such as testosterone. The testicles are held within a sac of skin called the scrotum. If cells inside your testicle begin to grow abnormally, they can form a cancerous mass, otherwise known as a tumor. As cancerous cells continue to multiply, the tumor itself can grow larger and may even spread outside of the testicle.

No matter what stage your testicular cancer is in, there’s hope for your recovery. With the right expertise and encouragement from a team of Mercy oncologists, you can overcome your cancer and get back to your regular day-to-day activities. 

Signs & Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

If you notice a lump, pain or anything unusual in a testicle, you should see your Mercy doctor as soon as possible. As with any cancer, the sooner you catch it the better your chances of successful treatment. 

Symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • Swelling or a hard lump in one of your testicles
  • A sudden change in how your testicle looks or feels
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
  • Fluid build-up or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • An achy feeling in your groin area
  • Breast swelling or tenderness

Testicular Cancer Diagnosis

If a lump is found in your testicle, a Mercy urologist may perform a variety of tests to confirm the presence of cancer. Usually, the first test given is an ultrasound. Additional testicular cancer tests can include the following.

Imaging Tests (Ultrasound, MRI, PET/CT)

Advanced imaging can be performed before or after the diagnosis of testicular cancer is confirmed. A picture of the inside of your body is taken with X-rays, magnetic fields and radioactive substances during an imaging test. Your Mercy doctor will learn whether your cancer has spread or check to see if it’s returned following treatment.

Lab Tests

Some blood and urine tests can be used to help diagnose testicular cancer. Many testicular cancers produce a protein known as a tumor marker. If tumor markers are found in the blood, it could mean that you have developed testicular cancer. Lab tests can provide a more specific diagnosis to aid in your treatment.

Biopsy

A biopsy is rarely done before surgery since it risks the spread of cancer. If a diagnosis is uncertain, your Mercy doctor may recommend a biopsy before removing your testicle, although this is uncommon. 

Regular Testicular Self-Exams

Teenage boys and men should perform regular testicular self-exams. When you’re familiar with the look and feel of your scrotum and testicles, you can identify lumps and other abnormal changes that require a visit to your Mercy doctor’s office.

Testicular Cancer Survivor's Story

We know fighting cancer can feel overwhelming. At Mercy, you’ll find all the expert care and emotional support you’ll need to face your fears and your cancer. Listen to one testicular cancer survivor’s appreciation of the Mercy health care workers who helped him fight and beat his disease.

Testicular Cancer Treatment

Your treatment strategy will depend on what stage your testicular cancer is in and whether it’s spread to other areas of your body. Your Mercy doctor may recommend more than one treatment to cure your cancer. Common treatment types for testicular cancer may include the following.

Surgery

Surgery is usually the first treatment options to cure testicular cancer. During this procedure, your Mercy surgeon will remove the whole tumor along with the testicle. Following their surgery, some men may wish to have a prosthetic testicle placed in the scrotum.

Chemotherapy

If your cancer has spread beyond the testicles, chemotherapy may be used as your primary method of treatment. Medicine for this treatment can be given in pill form or delivered directly into the veins. It’s also used following surgery to remove a testicle to make sure your cancer doesn’t return.

Radiation Therapy

Using a beam of high-energy rays or particles, radiation therapy destroys cancer cells and slows their growth. Radiation therapy can be used to kill cancer cells that have spread beyond the testicles and into nearby lymph nodes.

Some cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, can temporarily or permanently impact fertility. If you’re concerned about having children following your treatment, talk to your Mercy physician.

Testicular Cancer Support & Resources

At Mercy, we understand that cancer affects not only the body, but also the mind. That’s why we offer more than just medical treatment for our cancer patients. We have resources that include alternative treatments and spiritual support to help you come to terms with your diagnosis, and support you through your recovery.

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