What is testicular cancer?
Toolbar cancer is cancer that develops in the testes or testicles, which are part of the reproductive system of a man. Usually, testicular cancer starts in the germ cells that produce sperm. These are called ‘germ cell tumors’. The two main types of cancer that start in the germ cells are:
Seminoma, which originates in the inner part of the testicle, where the sperm cells are made; Non-seminoma, a collective name for other germ cell tumors than the seminoma.
How often does testicular cancer occur?
Of all malignant tumors in the male, about 1-2% is localized in the testis. The majority of these, approximately 95%, develop in the sperm-producing cells, so-called germ cell tumors. The rest are mainly Leydig cell tumors – the cells of Leydig are part of the connective tissue of the testicular and malignant (malignant) lymphomas, which is a type of cell of the immune system.
How many men get testicular cancer annually?
Every year, germ cell tumors are diagnosed with 400 people in the Netherlands. In young men between 20 and 40 years, these are the most common malignant tumors. But they can also be diagnosed in young children and older men, although malignant lymphomas in the testis are more common than germ cell tumors in males aged 60 and older. It is as yet unclear whether heredity plays a role. In 2-3% of patients, a second germ cell tumor is found in the other testicle after a number of years.
Risk factors for testicular cancer
Undetermined testicle (s) at birth is often mentioned as a risk factor. The chance that a tumor develops in an undescended testicle is thirty times greater than with a normally descended testicle. There is a statistical relationship, but the causal relationship is not clear. Nowadays it is assumed that it is not so much the abnormal location of the testicle that contributes to tumor formation, but that a genetically determined factor plays a role.
Men who have had testicular cancer before having a slightly higher chance of developing testicular cancer again. The chance of testicular cancer is also greater with testis atrophy. Testis atrophy is the shrinking of the tissues of one or both testicles, which can be congenital or develop later in life.
Another risk factor is cannabis use. Cannabis increases the risk of testicular cancer by a factor of two. Marijuana has many more, sometimes irreversible, harmful effects on the male reproductive system, such as a reduction in testosterone levels, infertility, and impotence.
Testicular cancer symptoms
- In case of testicular cancer the following symptoms may occur:
- often: hard painless lump the size of a pea in the relevant testicle;
- quite often: painless swelling or enlargement of the testicle or testicle – change in size and texture
- sometimes: a dull pain or an undefined feeling in the lower abdomen, behind or in the scrotum – a dull, heavy feeling in the lower abdomen, behind the scrotum or in the scrotum itself;
- very occasionally: a sharp pain in the affected testicle ;
it is also possible that the symptoms are related to metastases (metastases): these may give rise to back pain, radiating pain in the legs, abdominal pain, or a swelling of the mammary gland or of the area around the nipple.
Shame slows diagnosis of testicular cancer
Men with testicular cancer often express a visit to the general practitioner out of embarrassment about their complaints, so that the disease is only discovered at a late stage. This ultimately leads to a lower chance of survival, although this form of cancer does not have to be deadly at all. This is shown by research by the UMCG among sixty men with testicular cancer.
Diagnosis and research
The doctor will examine your testicles and refer you to a specialist if he suspects that the lump is a tumor. A specialist will examine you physically again and perform imaging research in the form of an ultrasound, which can show whether the lump is a solid mass indicating a tumor, or a benign cyst, a lump filled with fluid. A cyst often occurs in the testes. In addition, blood tests can be performed. Teel bar anchors produce substances that can be detected in the blood. These are called ‘markers’. The presence of such markers confirms the diagnosis of testicular cancer. However, a negative test does not rule out testicular cancer.