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Women's Health

Mercy Women's Care at St. Anne
3404 W. Sylvania Avenue
Toledo, OH 43623
419-407-1616

Mercy Women's Care at St. Charles
Navarre Medical Plaza
2702 Navarre Avenue
Suite 101
Oregon, OH 43616
696-7900

Mercy Women's Care at St. V's
2213 Cherry Street
Toledo, OH 43608
419-251-4340

Finding Out You Have Testicular Cancer

separator Testicular cancer (cancer of the testicles) accounts for only 1 percent of the cancers in men, but it’s the most common type of cancer for men in the 20 to 34 age group. Testicular cancer is highly curable if it is detected early.

Who’s at risk?
The following factors put men at increased risk of testicular cancer:

  • Undescended testicle (a testicle that did not go into the scrotum before birth). Even if a man has had surgery to move the testicle into the scrotum, the risk is still there.
  • Abnormal development of the testicles.
  • Klinefelter’s syndrome (a chromosomal disorder that causes men to have lower levels of male hormones)
  • Personal history of testicular cancer
  • Family history of testicular cancer

What are the symptoms?
It’s usually men themselves who find their own testicular cancer, although at times a doctor discovers it during a routine physical. Symptoms include:

  • Painless lump or swelling in the testicle
  • Enlargement in the testicle, or a change in the way it feels
  • Heavy feeling in the scrotum
  • Ache in the lower abdomen, back or groin
  • Collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • Pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum

What does treatment usually involve?
Most men who have testicular cancer are able to be cured with surgery and radiation and/or chemotherapy. As with just about any cancer, the earlier the tumor is found, the less aggressive the treatment needs to be. Treatment consists of:

Surgery
►        Removal of testicle: Almost every man who finds out he has testicular cancer will have a surgical procedure to remove the cancerous testicle. Surgeons make an incision in the groin to perform this procedure. It’s important for men to know that having one testicle removed

  • Does not cause inability to have sexual intercourse.
  • Does not cause sterility, or inability to have children. If you still feel worried about that, talk with your doctor about preserving some of your sperm ahead of time.

If the loss of a testicle bothers you, talk with your doctor about having a prosthesis implanted in your scrotum. This will have the normal look and feel of a testicle.

►        Removal of lymph nodes in the abdomen: Most of the time, your surgeon will remove lymph nodes deep in the abdomen to see whether the cancer has spread. This helps determine what your further treatment will be.

Sometimes, removal of a lymph node can affect your ability to ejaculate. Be sure to talk with your surgeon about special techniques that can increase the chances that you will continue to be able to ejaculate.

Radiation
During radiation treatment, high-energy X-rays kill cancer cells and shrink tumors in the affected area. Common side effects of radiation include

  • Feeling very tired
  • Changes in the skin where the radiation is given
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Radiation can interfere with the production of sperm, but for most patients, sperm production returns to normal after 1 to 2 years.

Chemotherapy
In most cases, if your cancer has spread outside the testicle, chemotherapy will be part of your treatment.  This is the use of anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout your body. Chemotherapy is generally injected into a vein. Side effects differ, depending on the particular drug you receive and the dosage. They can include:

  • Nausea
  • Hair loss
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Mouth sores
  • Skin rash

Be sure to tell your doctor about any side effects you experience, because there may be medications that can help control them.

Stem cell transplant
If your cancer is in an advanced stage or if it has recurred, your doctor may recommend a stem cell transplant along with high doses of chemotherapy. First the cells that form the blood—blood-forming stem cells—are removed and frozen, because otherwise the chemotherapy would destroy them. Your doctor replaces the stem cells after the chemotherapy is complete.

Follow-up after treatment is crucial
Testicular cancer, like other cancers, can recur, so it’s important to see your doctor regularly and report any unusual symptoms right away. Most patients have regular blood tests to measure tumor marker levels. Regular CT scans, which give detailed images of what’s going on in areas inside your body, are generally routine as well.

Source:
The American Cancer Society; The National Cancer Institute;



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