What is Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer is a disease in which cancer develop in one or both testicles. The testicle consists of a pair of testis also called the testes which are part of the male reproductive system. The testicles are contained within a loose pouch of skin called the scrotum that is directly underneath the penis. The disease is caused by germ cell tumors and the two main types are seminomas and non-seminomas.

Seminomas

There are two types of seminomas and these include classical seminoma and spermatocytic seminoma.

Classical seminoma usually occurs in men between the ages of 30s and 50s where more than 95% of the germ cell tumors are classical seminoma.

Spermatocytic seminoma is less common as it tend to occur only in older men. Spermatocytic seminoma tends to grow more slowly and it is also less likely that the tumor will spread to other part of the body than classical seminoma.

Non-seminomas

There are four types of non-seminomas and these include embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac carcinoma, choriocarcinoma, and teratoma. Non-seminomas occur in men between the ages of 20s and 40s.

Embryonal carcinomas are present with different types of germ cell tumors and it may also present in pure form. More than 80% of embryonal carcinomas are present in mixed germ cell turmors and about 3-10% of embryonal carcinomas are present in pure form. This type of tumor occurs in men between ages of 20s and 30s. The tumor is also more likely to grow rapidly and spread outside the testicle.

Yolk sac carcinoma is also known as endodermal sinus tumor which is the most common form of testicular cancer that occurs in children. The tumor also occurs in men between ages of 25 and 30s. Pure yolk sac tumors are more likely to occur in children where as in adults the tumor may be present in pure form or mixed with different types of germ cell tumors. Yolk sac carcinoma can be treated effectively with chemotherapy.

Choriocarcinoma is a rare form of testicular cancer that usually affects younger men. The tumor may be present in pure form or mixed with different types of germ cell tumors. This type of cancer is more likely to spread rapidly to other part of the organs if left untreated. Choriocarcinoma cannot be treated effectively with radiation and chemotherapy. Surgery is the only effective treatment for this cancer.

Teratomas may be present in pure form or mixed with different types of germ cell tumors. There are three different types of teratomas and these include mature teratoma, immature teratoma, and teratoma with malignant transformation.

Mature teratomas are not harmful and it is not likely for the tumor to spread to other part of the body. Mature teratoma can be treated effectively with surgery.

Immature teratomas are less common in pure form but are more likely to be mixed with different types of germ cell tumors. This tumor is most likely to grow and spread to surrounding areas of the testicle.

Teratoma with malignant transformation (TMT) is a rare form of testicular cancer. This type of cancer is more likely to develop outside of the testicle and is more aggressive than teratomas without malignant transformation. Radiation and chemotherapy are not as effective in treating the cancer and surgery is the only effective treatment. TMT also have a high recurrence rate in which the cancer comes back years after treatment.

Causes

The exact causes of testicular cancer are not known. There are several factors that increase a man’s risk of developing the disease and these may include the following.

• Undescended testicle is the condition in which the testicles fail to descend from the abdomen to the scrotum during birth. Failure of the testicles descending into the scrotum increases the risk of the disease.

• Congenital abnormalities involve men who developed abnormal testicles or penis that may also increase the risk factor.

• Men who developed testicular cancer in the past may experience higher risk of recurrence.

• The risk also increases in men if his father or brother had the disease in the past.

Symptoms

Some of the symptoms associated with the disease may include painless lump, pain in the scrotum, enlarged testicle, and a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum. Other symptoms may also include fever, tender breasts and nipples, and swelling in the scrotum. Most men can detect any unusual changes by performing testicular cancer self examination on their own.

Treatment

There are several methods used by doctor to diagnosed testicular cancer and these include blood tests, ultrasound, and biopsy. The diagnosis also helps doctor to determine the stages of the disease in order to determine the best type of treatment. Depending on the diagnosis the treatment may involve radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery. There are sided effects associated with each treatment and varies between individual.

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