Testicular cancer is highly treatable, even when cancer has spread beyond the testicle. Depending on the type and stage of testicular cancer, you may receive one of several treatments, or a combination. Regular testicular self-examinations can help identify growths early, when the chance for successful treatment of testicular cancer is highest.
Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:
A lump or enlargement in either testicle
A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
Cancer usually affects only one testicle.
It’s not clear what causes testicular cancer in most cases. Doctors know that testicular cancer occurs when healthy cells in a testicle become altered. Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way to keep your body functioning normally. But sometimes some cells develop abnormalities, causing this growth to get out of control — these cancer cells continue dividing even when new cells aren’t needed. The accumulating cells form a mass in the testicle.
Nearly all testicular cancers begin in the germ cells — the cells in the testicles that produce immature sperm. What causes germ cells to become abnormal and develop into cancer isn’t known.
The options for treating your testicular cancer depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, your overall health, and your own preferences. Treatment options may include:
Surgery to remove your testicle (radical inguinal orchiectomy) is the primary treatment for nearly all stages and types of testicular cancer. To remove your testicle, your surgeon makes an incision in your groin and extracts the entire testicle through the opening. A prosthetic, saline-filled testicle can be inserted if you choose. You’ll receive anesthetics during surgery. All surgical procedures carry a risk of pain, bleeding and infection.
There’s no way to prevent testicular cancer. Some doctors recommend regular testicle self-examinations to identify testicular cancer at its earliest stage. Not all doctors agree, though, so discuss testicular self-examination with your doctor if you’re unsure about whether it’s right for you.