10 Frequently Asked Questions Men Have About Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer is a serious matter. The American Cancer Society estimates 9,310 new cases of testicular cancer in the United States for 2018, and 400 of those will result in death.
Every 24 hours, 24 men will be diagnosed with, and one man will die of testicular cancer. With testicular cancer diagnoses on the rise, it’s normal to have a question or two, and that’s where we can help.
These frequently asked questions (FAQs) and their answers will help you gain a better understanding of testicular cancer.
1. What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?
Testicular Cancer can include one or more of the following symptoms:
- A lump or swelling in either testicle
- Discomfort or pain in either testicle
- Enlargement of a testicle
- Change in the way a testicle feels
- Dull ache, pain, or heaviness in the scrotum
- An ache in the lower abdomen, back, or groin
- Breast tissue swelling
- In some cases, there are no symptoms
2. If I do find a lump does that mean I have testicular cancer?
Valid question! But, no.
Actually, fewer than 4% of testicular lumps are cancerous– that’s 4 out of 100!
So, keep your eye on the ball(s). Perform self-checks every month!
How to perform a self-check:
- Take a warm bath or shower.
- Stand in front of a mirror and look for any signs of swelling.
- Support your testicles with one hand and feel each one with your other hand.
- Roll the testicles between the thumb and fingers, feeling for any lumps. Lumps can be as small as a grain of rice and are usually firm.
- Also, feel for areas that are tender.
If you feel a lump or notice any change, talk to your doctor immediately. Cases of testicular cancer that are detected early on have a 99% survival rate.
3. What causes testicular cancer?
The exact cause of testicular cancer is unknown.
Contrary to what you may have heard:
- Frequent bike rides DO NOT cause testicular cancer. Though it can contribute to a swollen prostate.
- The size of your testicles DOES NOT determine whether you’ll get testicular cancer or not.
- Prior injury to the testicles DOES NOT cause testicular cancer.
- Old age is NOT a factor. The majority of testicular cancer cases are found in men between the ages of 20 and 34–but can affect males of any age.
There are certain things that put men at higher risk of developing testicular cancer (TC) according to some studies:
- An undescended testicle
- Any congenital abnormalities of the testicle, penis, kidney, and inguinal hernias
- A family history of TC
- An HIV infection, particularly AIDS
- A personal history of TC
4. What treatments are available for testicular cancer?
Treatment options often depend on the severity of cancer but the most common first-line treatment is surgery to remove the testicle.
Your doctor will choose a treatment, or combination of treatments, appropriate for your specific case but options can range from:
- Waiting and observing the problem to see if it resolves on its own (only during the early stages)
- Surgical removal of cancer tissue
- Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells
- High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant
- Radiation therapy to kill cancer cells
5. Is testicular cancer fatal?
Testicular cancer is a diagnosis, not a death sentence. Not to take away from the seriousness of testicular cancer, but you should take comfort in that fact that TC is one of the most treatable types of cancer.
The overall survival rate of testicular cancer is 95%. When caught early, the survival rate increases to 99%! So, when we say early detection is important– we mean it.
6. What can I expect after testicular cancer treatment?
First and foremost, completing any cancer treatment is something worth celebrating. Especially considering testicular cancer treatments almost always destroy cancer completely.
The side-effects of testicular cancer treatments, more specifically radiotherapy and chemotherapy can be tough. Your doctor will discuss these with you personally before you begin the treatment. Side effects will often continue after your treatment but will begin to improve after 1-2 weeks.
There will always be a possibility of recurrence so take advantage of follow-up care.
Most cancer survivors find they’re able to live life to the fullest after recovering from cancer.
7. How will testicular cancer treatments affect my ability to become a father?
Some testicular cancer treatments can leave you infertile.
When the cancerous testicle is surgically removed, the remaining testicle is still capable of producing enough sperm to father a child.
If fatherhood is on your mind, it’s important to take steps that will increase your odds of becoming a father before beginning treatments. Storing sperm in a sperm bank for later use is a very common option.
8. How can I prevent testicular cancer?
As previously mentioned, there are certain factors that put men at higher risk than others of developing testicular cancer. Most of these risk factors cannot be changed– therefore prevention isn’t an option.
In terms of being proactive, the best you can do is be cautious and check yourself regularly.
9. Will I be able to have sex after testicular cancer?
It is safe to have sex after your body recovers from a testicular cancer treatment.
Each case is different, but you can expect to return to a normal sex life after just a few months.
10. What happens now?
The testicular cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process can take a toll on both you and your loved ones.
Seek out support specialists, groups, and programs that will help you and your family get through the difficult time.
At the Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, we work with testicular cancer patients regularly. We can perform a variety of testicular cancer procedures and diagnostic services at any of our Charlotte area locations. Book an appointment with one of our highly experienced Urologists today.