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Testicular cancer may not be an incredibly common form of the disease. However, it is the most common type of cancer to affect men in the 15-year-old to 34-year-old age category. Every year, nearly 10,000 new cases – and 350 deaths – occur from testicular cancer. This is sufficient evidence that we need to continue striving for improved diagnostics and treatment options. Where it all begins, though, is with awareness.
The list of risk factors for testicular cancer is small and includes a family history of the disease, abnormal development of the testicles, and an undescended testicle. Aside from these risk factors, researchers have not yet been able to determine why some men develop abnormal cellular regeneration in a testicle.
Not many men make a habit of familiarizing themselves with their testicles in a formal manner. Many cases of testicular cancer have been identified purely by accident. Some are recognized during a physical examination at the doctor’s office. It isn’t very often that symptoms are obvious enough to present themselves randomly, such as a sensation of swelling or heaviness. Men in the high-risk age group may want to set aside a few minutes now and then to perform a self-examination.
The process of observing and feeling the testicles for signs of anomaly is relatively simple. Just spending some time looking at the testicles (with the penis moved out of the way) allows a man to more quickly notice if swelling is present. Lumps are not usually obvious to the naked eye. They may be felt by gently moving the testicle between the thumb and fingers. The observation and gentle palpation of each testicle can accelerate the early detection of testicular cancer, so is valuable to the outcome of care.
Evidence of potential testicular cancer should be formally evaluated by a urologist as soon as possible. Prompt treatment may not be the only key to the success of testicular cancer treatment. Where the primary benefit lies is the method of care needed to achieve an optimal outcome from surgery, chemotherapy, or other modalities. If testicular cancer is not diagnosed and treated in an appropriate time frame, cancer can spread to the lymph nodes, creating urgency for more aggressive treatment.
UT Urology serves patients from Chattanooga and surrounding areas. For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of testicular cancer, call (423) 778-8765.