Testicular cancer is a malignancy that can develop in one or both testicles. These walnut-shaped male reproductive organs, which are located inside the scrotum, produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone. Most testicular tumors develop in the sperm-producing germ cells, but some also develop in the hormone-producing stroma. Both seminoma and nonseminoma tumors tend to be highly responsive to treatment, especially when detected early.
What Causes Testicular Cancer?
The precise causes of testicular cancer are unclear. Scientists have established that the tumors form after healthy cells develop abnormalities in their DNA, which lead to uncontrolled cell growth. The excess cells then form a mass in a testicle. The drivers behind the DNA mutations are unknown.
What Are the Signs of Testicular Cancer?
Some common symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- Painless swelling or a sensation of heaviness in the scrotum
- A pea-sized lump in a testicle
- A buildup of fluid in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the groin or lower abdomen
- Breast tenderness or enlargement
How Is Testicular Cancer Diagnosed?
After performing a physical examination, a physician will typically order blood work and an ultrasound. If the results of the initial diagnostic tests suggest cancer, the entire testicle will be surgically removed so that it can be examined by a pathologist for cancerous cells. Because penetrating a cancerous testicle can significantly increase the risk of cancer spread, testicular cancer can only be diagnosed after the affected testicle is removed and examined, unlike other types of cancer that can be diagnosed with a biopsy.
How Is Testicular Cancer Treated?
The surgical removal of the affected testicle—which is performed as part of the diagnostic process—is the main form of treatment for all types and stages of testicular cancer. For an early-stage tumor, this procedure may be the only treatment needed. For a more advanced tumor, the initial procedure may be followed by surgery to remove nearby lymph nodes. Some patients also receive radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
The renowned team of genitourinary (GU) oncology specialists at Tampa General Hospital offers the latest treatment options for testicular tumors and other GU cancers. We provide care that is both individualized and integrated, helping each patient achieve the best possible outcome and quality of life.