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What is Testicular Cancer?

What is Testicular Cancer?

The testicles, an important part of the male reproductive system, are the organ where testosterone and sperm production takes place. However, cancer can develop in this organ for various reasons. Although this condition is rare, it can lead to more serious problems if not intervened early.

Testicular Cancer

The testicle is part of the male reproductive system and is where reproductive cells are produced in men. The testicles are located in bags called scrotums. They produce male reproductive cells called sperm and are also responsible for the production of the male sex hormone testosterone. Testicular cancer is a type of cancer in which abnormal cell growth occurs in the testicular tissue.

Biology and Types of Testicular Cancer

The biology of testicular cancer is related to abnormalities in the cellular structure of the testicles. It is usually caused by uncontrolled growth and division of healthy cells. Testicular cancers are basically classified into two main types: seminoma and nonseminoma. The biology of these cancer types can be summarized as follows:

  • Seminoma: Seminoma type testicular cancer originates from germ cells. It is usually a slow-growing type and has a lower tendency to spread. These cancer cells typically form growths with clear borders. Seminoma cancers are caused by abnormal growth of healthy cells from the germ cells of the testicles.
  • Nonseminoma Nonseminoma cancers are complex types that arise from different cell types. These cancers can grow faster and have a higher risk of spreading to other tissues. Nonseminoma cancers may involve abnormal growths from different cell types of the testicles.

Causes and Risk Factors for Testicular Cancer

There are multiple causes and risk factors behind the occurrence of testicular cancer. These can be explained as follows:

Genetic Factors and Testicular Cancer

Genetic factors play an important role in the development of testicular cancer. Family history can affect the risk of testicular cancer. If a person has a family history of testicular cancer, the risk of cancer may increase. In addition, people with a family history of testicular cancer may also have a higher risk of cancer in other family members.

Random gene mutations can also affect the risk of testicular cancer. Changes or mutations in genes can affect normal cell growth and division processes. This can lead to abnormal cell growth and cancer development in testicular tissue. Some genetic conditions, such as Klinefelter syndrome, can also increase the risk of testicular cancer. This syndrome is caused by abnormalities in the X and Y chromosomes and can affect the normal development of the testicles.

Genetic counseling is important for individuals at risk. This counseling can help determine an individual's cancer risk through genetic testing and family history assessment. If you are at high risk due to family history or genetic factors, you can increase the chances of early detection and treatment by following regular health check-ups and doctor recommendations.

Environmental Factors and Testicular Cancer

  • Environmental factors are important factors that can influence the development of testicular cancer. These can include

    Chemical Exposure: Factors such as pesticides, industrial chemicals and hormone disruptors can contribute to the development of cancer.
  • Smoking: Harmful substances in cigarette smoke can cause mutations in cells and trigger the development of cancer.
  • Dietary Habits: An unhealthy diet, inadequate consumption of antioxidants and excessive consumption of fatty foods can increase the risk of cancer.
  • Heavy Metals: Substances such as lead and mercury can increase the risk of cancer.
  • Radiation Exposure: High doses of radiation, especially radiotherapy treatment or exposure to radioactive substances can increase the risk of testicular cancer.
  • Workplace Exposure: Workplace exposure to chemicals or harmful environmental factors can increase the risk of cancer.
  • Plastic Use: Chemicals in plastic products, such as phthalates, can increase the risk of cancer by affecting hormone balance.

Testicular Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of testicular cancer may differ from individual to individual. Early and advanced stage symptoms of testicular cancer can be listed as follows:

Early Signs and Symptoms

  • Swelling or palpable mass in the testicles
  • Pain in the scrotum
  • Groin Pain
  • Testicular Stiffness

Advanced Stage Symptoms

  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Bone pain or fractures
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis of Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is diagnosed using various medical methods and tests. These methods can be listed as follows:

Physical Examination and Medical History

First, the symptoms and complaints experienced by the patient are asked in detail. The focus is especially on whether swelling, pain, mass or any changes in the testicles have been noticed. The doctor will palpate the testicles and check for any swelling or masses. The scrotum area is also examined, looking for pain or tenderness. The doctor will then ask about any history of testicular cancer in family members.

Based on this medical history and physical examination, the doctor will assess the patient's risk of testicular cancer and may order further tests or imaging tests if necessary.

Diagnostic Tests

  • Various diagnostic tests are used to diagnose testicular cancer. Some of the diagnostic tests used in the diagnosis of testicular cancer are as follows:

    Ultrasonography (USG): Ultrasonography creates detailed images of the testicles and surrounding tissues. This can help detect abnormalities in the testicles.
  • Tumor Markers: Tumor markers detected by blood tests can help assess the presence or spread of testicular cancer.
  • Computed Tomography (CT): A CT scan creates cross-sectional images of the body. This is used to assess whether the cancer has spread.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI uses magnetic fields to produce more detailed images of the body. It can help determine the spread of cancer.
  • PET/CT Scan: These scans allow more precise and detailed monitoring of the spread of cancer throughout the body.
  • Biopsy: If testicular cancer is suspected, a biopsy may be performed. A biopsy is when an abnormal tissue sample is taken and examined in a laboratory.

Testicular Cancer Spread Rate

The rate at which testicular cancer spreads can vary depending on the type of cancer, its stage and the timing of treatment. In general, testicular cancer has a lower tendency to spread when it is detected early and treatment is started quickly. However, since each patient is different, no exact rate of spread can be given.

Staging and spread

Staging of testicular cancer is an assessment to determine where and how far the cancer has spread in the body. This staging is important in developing the treatment plan for the cancer. Staging of testicular cancer is usually done as follows:

  • Stage 0 (Stage Zero): Cancer cells are found only in the testicle. It has not spread to other areas.
  • Stage I (Stage I): Cancer affects only one testicle and a limited area within the testicle. It has not spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage II: The cancer is found in the testicle or in the lymph vessels coming out of the testicle. It can spread to the lymph nodes but has not yet reached other parts of the body.
  • Stage III: The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and may sometimes have spread to other parts of the body. It may have spread to the lungs, liver or bones.

Metastasis and Prognosis

  • Metastasis means the spread of cancer cells from the original tumor site to other parts of the body. Testicular cancer can metastasize to other organs in advanced stages. Metastasis can affect the treatment and prognosis of the cancer.

    Metastasis through the lymphways: Testicular cancer can spread to the lymph nodes through the lymphways. Especially the lymph nodes in the abdomen can often be affected.
  • Metastasis through the blood: Cancer cells can be transported to different parts of the body through the blood.

Survival rates of cancers in early stages are generally higher after treatment. However, the prognosis is also good in patients who respond positively to treatment.

The prognosis may be more difficult in cancers that have metastasized. However, good results can be achieved with treatment even in advanced cancers.

Testicular Cancer Treatment

Testicular cancer treatment is usually carried out with one or a combination of several of the following methods:

Treatment Options and Decision Making

  • Surgical Methods
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy

The decision-making process takes place in collaboration between the patient and the doctor. The doctor assesses the patient's condition, explains the treatment options and explains the risks and benefits. The patient's personal preferences and lifestyle are also important in the decision-making process.

Surgery and Radiation Therapy

  • Surgical Treatment: Testicular cancer surgery is performed to completely remove the cancerous testicle. This procedure is often called "radical inguinal orchiectomy". This surgery involves removing the cancerous testicle, sperm duct and blood vessels. The intact testicle is usually left so that hormone production and reproductive function can continue. Rehabilitation after surgery and the use of prostheses can also improve the patient's quality of life.
  • Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy treatment uses high-energy beams to target cancer cells. In testicular cancer, radiotherapy is usually used after surgery or in areas where cancer cells have spread. Radiotherapy treatment can prevent cancer cells from multiplying, but it can also damage healthy tissues. Therefore, the radiotherapy plan is designed to precisely target the areas where the cancer has spread. Side effects may vary depending on the area treated with radiotherapy and the dose of the treatment.  

Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy

Chemotherapy Chemotherapy in the treatment of testicular cancer involves the use of different drugs depending on the stage and type of cancer. The drugs travel through the body and target the cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often administered in cycles, meaning that the drugs are taken for a certain period of time, followed by a rest period. Chemotherapy can have side effects. The doctor will therefore formulate an appropriate treatment plan, taking into account the patient's general health and the risk of side effects.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy can be used to treat testicular cancer by using the patient's own immune system to attack cancer cells. This can be done with specific drugs or vaccines. The side effects of immunotherapy are usually less intense than chemotherapy, but each patient may react differently.

Frequently Asked Questions About Testicular Cancer

You can continue reading for curious questions and answers about testicular cancer.

Can Testicular Cancer Occur at Any Age?

Although testicular cancer can occur at any age, it is more common in young men between the ages of 15 and 35. This age range is when testicular cancer is at the highest risk. In rare cases, younger or older men can also develop testicular cancer.

Which methods are used in the treatment of testicular cancer?

Methods such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are used in the treatment of testicular cancer. Treatment options are determined depending on the type and stage of cancer and the patient's health status.

 

 

 

 

* Liv Hospital Editorial Board has contributed to the publication of this content .
* Contents of this page is for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. The content of this page does not include information on medicinal health care at Liv Hospital .
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10 May 2024
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