Testicular cancer, also called malignant neoplasm of the testis, is a cancer that affects the testicles, which are the male reproductive organs held by the scrotum that produce sperm and male hormones.
Compared to most other cancers, testicular cancer is rare. However, it is also the most common cancer seen in young adult American males. Even when the disease has spread, it is highly treatable with a relatively high survival rate.
Most of the time, it is not clear what causes testicular cancer to form. It is known that the condition occurs when healthy cells somehow become altered. When the abnormal cells develop and divide, they can overtake healthy cells and grow out of control. A tumor forms when these altered cells accumulate into a mass.
The first indication of testicular cancer is usually a painless lump that can be felt in either testicle. Depending on whether the cancer has spread and how far, patients may also experience:
In rare instances, the disease may cause the patient’s breasts to grow or feel sore. Some tumors can lead to signs of premature puberty in boys, including early onset body and facial hair and a deepening voice.
As is the case for many cancers, chemotherapy is a common medication for testicular cancer that works to stop the spread of the malignant tumor. Radiation therapy achieves a similar goal, the difference being that the procedure uses x-rays to kill abnormal cells. Patients may also be given hormone therapy to regulate hormone production. Some cases might require surgery. An inguinal orchiectomy removes one or both testicles and the spermatic cord, while retroperitoneal lymph node dissection removes the lymph nodes at the back of the abdomen.