"It takes balls to survive testicular cancer".
Today, one male is diagnosed with testicular cancer every hour somewhere in the world. As we enter April and Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, we’re going to spend the next few issues of the Cancer Pro blog looking at all aspects related to this form of cancer.
Testicular Cancer the facts
- Testicular cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among men 15-34 and accounts for about 1% of male cancer worldwide.
- The latest numbers suggest that around 50,000 new cases and 10,000 deaths from testicular cancer are annually diagnosed worldwide.
- In Malaysia, testicular cancer is the 9th and 10th most frequent cancer in males aged 0-14 years old and 14-49, with the majority being of Malay ethnicity with an average age of 33.
- More men between the ages of 15 to 44 will die of testicular cancer than women of breast cancer.
- Currently, the risk of dying from this cancer is very low: about 1 in 5000.
- When detected early, testicular cancer is over 95% curable.
- Western Europe, Northern Europe, and Australia have the highest cases, whereas Middle Africa has the lowest.
- Between 48% to 92% of testicular cancer survivors have successfully had children after posttreatment.
- With a simple self-examination, most testicular cancers can be detected by the patient.
The incidence rate of testicular cancer has been increasing around the world for several decades. The increase is mostly in seminomas – the most common form of TC in older men, and while experts have not been able to find reasons for this. The good news is that lately, the rate of increase has slowed.
Despite thousands of men being diagnosed worldwide with TC every year, there are still many cases in which the disease is not addressed. But for men who take the time to understand TC, its associated risk factors, and other aspects of this type of cancer, they can take the required steps to diagnose and treat the disease well before it’s too late.
What Is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer or TC affects the testicles, which produce male sex hormones and sperm used for reproduction. In most instances, there is no apparent cause behind TC. The problem occurs when healthy cells in the testicle are altered and start growing and dividing rapidly, to the point where no new cells are needed, which causes accumulating cells to form a mass in the testicle. There are two types of TC:
- Seminoma: Refers to a tumour that occurs in all age groups but is most common in older men.
- Nonseminoma: Refers to a tumour that commonly develops early in a man’s life and spreads rapidly. Nonseminoma tumours are classified into several different types: choriocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma, and yolk sac tumours, and they also tend to be more aggressive than seminoma tumours.
Virtually all TC types begin in germ cells, i.e. cells in the testicles that result in immature sperm. However, what causes these cells to develop into TC is still to be confirmed.
What are the risk factors connected with Testicular cancer?
There are various risk factors associated with TC, and these often include:
- Undescended Testicle: Men who have a testicle that never descended are at greater risk of TC than men whose testicles have descended normally.
- Abnormal Testicle: Klinefelter syndrome (infertility and small, poorly functioning testicles) and other conditions sometimes cause the testicles to develop abnormally and increase an individual’s risk of TC.
- Family History: An individual with a father, brother, or another blood relative who experienced TC may be more susceptible to the disease than others.
- Age: Although TC can occur at any age, it is most common in men between 15 and 35.
- Race: Research shows TC is more common in white men than in men of colour
All men need to consider the risk factors closely mentioned above; otherwise, they risk developing TC without realizing it.
Symptoms associated with Testicular Cancer?
TC typically affects only one testicle, and there are many signs and symptoms associated with the disease, which can include;
- Enlarged scrotum
- Mass in the testicle
- Groin pain and/or pain in the testicles
- Reduced energy
- Back pain
- Breast enlargement or tenderness
Testicular Cancer is one of the most treatable cancers.
Unfortunately, like most cancer, there is no way to prevent TC, but a self-examination allows a person to identify TC in its earliest stage. So if you experience one or more of these signs or symptoms, don’t wait to get help. Schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately, and take the first step to receive TC diagnosis and treatment.
Remember, when detected early, testicular cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer; 99% of men diagnosed survive. All it takes is a simple monthly self -examination. So don’t be embarrassed to keep your balls firmly in your hands.
About Cancer Pro
Cancer Pro is the voice of the world’s cancer physicians and oncology professionals in Malaysia and is the trusted compassionate resource for people with cancer, their families and caregivers. For more information regarding all aspects of Testicular Cancer, please visit www. cancer-pro.com.