Testicular cancer refers to a condition in which testicular cells become malignant. Men between the age of 15 and 49 are more likely to develop this disease. The good thing is that testicular cancer is treatable, even in cases when it spreads beyond the testicle. The chances of treating it successfully are usually higher when it is discovered early, which is why self-examinations are important. The causes of testicular cancer are not clear, but a number of factors may contribute towards the development of this cancer.
Possible Causes of Testicular Cancer
It is clear that testicular cancer develops when healthy cells in a testicle become malignant, but what causes this change is not clear. Healthy cells grow and divide in a controlled manner, but some abnormalities may make these cells to grow exponentially. The cells in a testicle continue to grow and divide when there is no need for new cells. The new cells will accumulate and form a mass in the testicle. Almost all testicular cancers develop in the germ cells. Here are some of the most probable causes of testicular cancer:
1. Undescended Testicles
The testicles of unborn male babies grow inside their abdomen but move down into the scrotum after birth. Sometimes, the testicles do not descend due to certain reasons. It usually requires surgery to fix the issue and help the testicles move down into the scrotum. However, the risk of developing cancer is five times greater for someone who has the surgery after 13 years.
2. Previous Testicular Cancer
You are 12 times more likely to develop testicular cancer if you have developed it in one of your testicles in the past. So you need to attend follow-up appointments to ensure everything is under control.
3. Age and Race
Testicular cancer is more likely to affect young and middle-aged men. About 85% of cases involved men aged 15-49, and it was more common in white men as compared to other ethnic groups. It is more common in Western and Northern Europe.
4. Family History
If you have a family history of testicular cancer, you are more likely to develop it at some stage in life. Your chances of developing testicular cancer increase six times if your father had been diagnosed with it. Since there are signs that testicular cancer runs in families, researchers think there may be some genetic mutations that increases the risk for testicular cancer.
5. Endocrine Disruptors
Different endocrine disruptors may have links with testicular cancer. Examples of endocrine disruptors include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which are chemical compounds usually used as a coolant, dibutyl phthalate which is a chemical used in the manufacturing of cosmetics, and some types of pesticide. Even though many countries have made laws to restrict the use of PCBs, it is still possible to be exposed to endocrine disruptors due to contamination of the food chain. Researchers are still looking for evidence to confirm there is a link between testicular cancer and indirect exposure to endocrine disruptors.
Infertility can be one of the causes of testicular cancer because research shows that infertile men are three times more likely to develop this form of cancer.
People who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day are twice as likely to develop cancer as compared to those who do not smoke.
Some studies have found connections between testicular cancer and a man's height. Men who are taller than 6.1 feet are twice as likely to develop this cancer as compared to men who are of average height. The risk becomes threefold in men who are taller than 6.4 feet. Being shorter than 5.6 feet decreases the risk by 20%.
Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
Once you have some information about the causes of testicular cancer, it is equally important to understand the basic symptoms that appear when you develop this type of cancer. The most common symptom is a swelling or lump in one of your testicles. The lump is usually about the size of pea, but it can be larger in some cases. While most lumps do not automatically imply that you have cancer, you should not ignore them. Go talk to your doctor to confirm your lump is harmless. You may experience some other symptoms as well. For instance:
- You will experience a sharp or dull ache in your scrotum or testicles.
- You will notice a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum.
- You may experience fatigue with a general feeling of being unwell.
- You may experience collection of fluid in your scrotum.
Treatments for Testicular Cancer
Information about symptoms and causes of testicular cancerusually helps identify the issue in its early stages, but even then, you need to talk to your doctor to find an appropriate treatment option. Here are different treatment methods available for testicular cancer:
You may have to undergo a surgery to remove your testicles. The procedure involves making an incision in the groin area to extract the testicles. A surgical process may also be required to remove nearby lymph nodes. The procedure involves making an incision in the abdominal area. It is important to see your doctor regularly for follow-up appointments to ensure your cancer does not return. You will have to undergo CT scans, blood tests and other procedures to ensure everything is normal.
2. Radiation Therapy
The procedure involves using high-powered energy beams to get rid of cancer cells. You will be on a table with a large machine moving around you. Your doctor may recommend radiation therapy after removing your testicles. It has certain side effects such as irritation in your groin or abdominal areas, skin redness and fatigue.
The treatment procedure involves taking certain drugs to kill cancerous cells. These drugs travel through the body to kill cells that may have traveled to other areas in your body. You may experience certain side effects such as nausea, fatigue, hair loss and infections. Different drugs are used during chemotherapy and they may produce different side effects. Chemotherapy treatment may cause permanent infertility.