Madrid, March 22, 2021.- Testicular cancer occurs when the cells of the testicles, or testes grow and multiply uncontrollably, damaging the surrounding healthy tissue and interfering with the normal function of the testicle. "This cancer is the most common in young adults, since it mainly affects men ages 20 and 34," explains Dr. Fernando Lista, head of the Endourology Section at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid. However, when testicular cancer is found early, there is a better than 90% chance of a cure.
"It is recommended that men regularly self-examine their testicles, just as women do with their breasts," says Dr. Lista, because this cancer, in its early stages, "does not hurt, bleed or present any other symptoms, you just notice that the testicle has changed in size, or there is a lump, or induration, hardening of the tissue, that should not be there”.
Sometimes there may be a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin, or even localized discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum. "Most of these symptoms do not necessarily have to be cancer, but if you notice one or more of them, you must consult a urologist," explains the specialist.
In Spain, around 3 to 6 cases are diagnosed per 100,000 men a year, and there are several risk factors. “First, if there is a family history of testicular cancer, that is, if there are close relatives, like a father or brother, who have had from it. Another factor is having or having had cryptorchidism, which is when one or both testicles has not descended into the scrotum during development”.
"In some cases, there are external factors, like testicular atrophy, which may be secondary to other diseases, like mumps", states Dr. Lista, who goes on to explain that "another factor may be contralateral testicular cancer; that is to say, if you have had a tumor in one testicle, it may develop in the other”. Although less common, it may also be due to chromosomal abnormalities.
Treatment and fertility
The first treatment option for this cancer is surgery to remove the testicle through the groin, making a small incision in the abdomen. Depending on the type of cells in the tumor, treatment with chemotherapy may follow or, less frequently, radiotherapy. If the patient wishes, a biocompatible prosthesis can be implanted in the scrotal bag, so the patient still appears to have two testicles. Once overcoming the cancer, the patient must continue to be monitored for about five years by means of image and blood testing.
Although testicular cancer does not necessarily affect fertility, "often, prior to any treatment, patients are asked for a fertility study, and their semen may be preserved”.