A small swelling on the testicle that does not hurt or bother, and maybe a little tug in the groin - but most of the time you do not even feel it when the disease gets wide: testicular cancer. Every year around 4, 200 men in Germany contract testicular cancer, usually before the age of 35. This makes the disease rare overall, considering that more than 70, 000 women develop breast cancer each year. But in the age group of men between 20 and 40 years, it is the most common cancer ever.
Risk factors for testicular cancer
The cause of testicular cancer is still unclear. But one knows meanwhile, what the origin of testicular cancer favors. There is once the so-called undescended testicles, so if the testicle is not in the scrotum. Normally, during development in the womb, the testicles first move slowly from the abdomen into the right position in the scrotum. If this development step is disturbed, the testes remain in the groin, for example, or even in the abdomen.
Knowing that this poses a risk for testicular cancer, one strives as early as possible to bring the testes in the correct position in the scrotum, either by hormone or surgery.
Even boys with congenital inguinal hernias seem more likely to develop testicular cancer. And it has been found that there is often a familial accumulation, so that several men in a family can be affected, which speaks for a genetic predisposition. Currently being discussed, which additional risk factors in the womb could lead to a man suffering from testicular cancer in the course of his life.
Good chance of recovery in testicular cancer
There are several types of testicular cancer, depending on which cells the tumor originated from. But all tumors have one thing in common: they can be treated very well. Over 90 percent of men overcome the condition with the help of surgery, chemo and radiation. And even with a recurrence of the disease, one has (still) good prospects for a cure!
Which treatment is used depends on the type of tumor and whether the disease has already spread to the body. And of course, the same applies to this disease as to all other cancers: the sooner it is discovered, the greater the chance of recovery!
Every change on the testicle belongs to examined
A man who detects an abnormality such as a swelling or a nodule on his testicles should consult a urologist as soon as possible. This will scan the testicles after a survey and make an ultrasound examination. In addition, an examination of the rest of the body to look for swollen lymph nodes, which may be a sign of secondary tumors in the body.
If the doctor diagnoses testicular cancer, an operation is necessary in which the testicles are removed. But even with a suspicion, one will aim for an operation in order to examine the testes in more detail. Of course, in this case the testicle is removed only if the suspicion is confirmed during the operation. Sometimes a tissue sample of the second testicle is taken, for example if it is very small. Because then there is the possibility that even the second testicle already has tissue changes.
Exact investigation important for further treatment
In addition to the histological examination of the remote testicle, further investigations are often necessary to determine if and how far the disease has already spread in the body. In medicine this means that the stage of the disease is detected. This is essential to plan further treatment. For this purpose, X-ray and computed tomography are usually used. There are three stages of the disease:
- Stage I means that the tumor is limited to the testes only.
- Stage II that the tumor has spread to lymph nodes in the immediate vicinity of the abdominal or pelvic area.
- Stage III then refers to all stages of the disease in which the tumor has already spread cancer cells to more distant lymphatic regions, for example into the lymph nodes of the lung. And even if organs have already been attacked, such as liver, bone or brain.
For the staging, each patient is also bled and examined for so-called tumor markers. Tumor markers are substances that also occur in the healthy body, but can occur in a malignant disease suddenly increased because the cancerous tissue produces this substance. These can be certain proteins, but also enzymes and hormones.