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Testicular cancer is one of the rarest forms of cancer that affects men. It is more prevalent in men aged between 15 and 35 years. It develops in the testicles, and its symptoms include painless lumps or swellings in the testicles, fluid buildup in the scrotum, pain around the groin area, and discomfort in the scrotum. Treatment depends on the severity of the cancer. The most common remedies include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and stem cell transplant. Physicians recommend regular self-examination of the testicles as a preventative measure. Individuals are advised to watch out for abnormal swelling or lumps in the testicles or scrotum. Testicular cancer is a curable disease if diagnosis early.
Testicular cancer is a common disease among men, and develops in the testicles. It mainly affects males between the ages of 15 and 35, and manifests through the occurrence of lumps or swellings in either of the testicles. There are four main types of testicular cancer, namely germ cell testicular cancer, lymphoma, Sertoli cell tumors, and Leydig cell tumors (Govindan, 2008). The disease’s incidence is low and accounts for approximately 1% of all cancer cases in men (Verville & Bozzone, 2009). The most common type is germ testicular cancer and has two subtypes, namely seminomas and non-seminomas. It is a treatable and curable disease. Therefore, early detection and diagnosis is necessary.
Nature and Causes
The main risk factors for testicular cancer include family history, HIV or Aids, abnormal testicle development, race, age, undescended testicle, hypospadias, fertility problems, vasectomy, testicular injuries, inguinal hernia, and family history (Govindan, 2008). Abnormal development of testicles increases the risk of testicular cancer development. Individuals whose families have histories of this cancer are at high risk. The most affected age group is that of young men between the ages of 15 and 35. Testicular cancer can occur at any age. However, incidence rates among older men are low. Testicular cancer is more prevalent among while men than black men. The development of undescended testicles is known as sryptorchidism (Lin, 2015). This condition involves the failure of scrotum to descend from the abdominal region into the scrotum. Current research has revealed that certain genes could be involved in the development of testicular cancer. In that regard, a history of the disease in a family increases the likelihood of its development in other family members (Verville & Bozzone, 2009).
Signs and Symptoms
The main symptom of testicular cancer is the occurrence of painless lumps or swelling on both or one of the testicles. The main signs include a feeling of heaviness and a dull ache in the scrotum (Verville & Bozzone, 2009). One scrotum may become harder than the other one or it could appear bigger. In many cases, victims experience a sudden accumulation of fluid in the scrotum, lower back pain, shortness of breath, and swellings on one or both legs (Lin, 2015). In rare cases, breasts become tender or enlarge due to the effect of a hormone known as gynecomastia. In rare cases, certain Leydig cell tumors secrete estrogen that causes early puberty in boys. The symptoms of advanced testicular cancer include low back pain, headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, and belly pain (Lin, 2015).
Laboratory Tests Used in Diagnosis
Tests used to diagnose testicular cancer include blood tests, ultrasound scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans (Hamilton, 2007). The main purpose of conducting blood tests is to check blood for the presence of proteins referred to as tumor markers (Hasan, 2011). The blood of a patient with testicular cancer contains a very high concentration of protein markers. Physicians test blood for three types of protein markers, namely alpha feta protein (AFP), human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) (Hamilton, 2007). Abnormally high levels of these proteins signify the presence of testicular cancer. Ultrasound scans are effective in the diagnosis of testicular cancer because they identify the changes in the testicles normal morphology such as swellings and abnormal lumps (Hamilton, 2007). In addition, they are used to determine whether a lump is cancerous or malignant, and whether it is located in the testicle or the scrotum. In many cases, physicians conduct scans of both the scrotum and the testicles. A scan of an affected testicle shows the presence of solid lumps and a fluid-filled cyst (Hamilton, 2007).
Role of Periodic Acid-Schiff Stain in Diagnosis
During the diagnosis process, periodic acid-Schiff stain (PAS) is used to enhance the visualization of cancerous cells during the examination of samples under the microscope (Lin, 2015). The stain gives the cells a distinct color for better observation. Intratubular germ cell neoplasma cells are indications of the presence of testicular cancer. PAS is used to improve the visualization of PAS-positive vacuoles in cells that contain intratubular germ cell neoplasma. PAS is commonly used to stain neutral mucus substances such as glycoprotein (Lin, 2015).
Prevention and Treatment
Several remedies are used to treat testicular cancer. They include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, high-dose chemotherapy, and stem cell transplant (Hasan, 2011). In certain cases, more than one treatment remedies are used. The type of treatment method applied depends primarily on the type of cancer and the stage of development (Lasley, 2011). Surgery involves the removal of the affected testicle and lymph nodes. In case tumors have spread to other body parts, they are removed too. Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to annihilate cancerous cells. Approaches used include internal and external radiation treatment (Hasan, 2011). Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to treat cancer by destroying them or stopping their growth (Lasley, 2011). High dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant involves administering doses of chemotherapy and using stem cell technology to replace cancerous blood-forming cells (Hasan, 2011). Testicular cancer can be prevented by performing regular testicular self-examinations and contacting a physician in case swellings or lumps are detected.
Testicular cancer is a rare type that mainly affects men between the ages of 15 and 35 years. The cause is unknown. However, researchers have identified several factors that increase the risk of development. They include family history, abnormal testicular development, age, and race. Major symptoms include painless swellings, aches in the scrotum, and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. The most common type of testicular cancer is the germ cell testicular cancer. It manifests in two main types, namely seminomas and non-seminomas. Several methods and approaches are used in the treatment of testicular cancer. The most commonly used approaches include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. In some cases, different methods are used to increase the effectiveness of treatment in cases where the cancer has reached advanced stages. Physicians recommend regular testicular self-examination as a prevention strategy.
Govindan, R. (2008). The Washington manual of oncology. New York, NY: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Hamilton, W. (2007). Cancer diagnosis in primary care. New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Hasan, H. (2011). Testicular cancer: current and emerging trends in detection and treatment. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group.
Lasley, I. (2011). 21st century cancer treatment. New York, NY: Isaac Lasley.
Lin, D. W. (2015). Testicular cancer, an issue of urologic clinics. New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Verville, K., & Bozzone, D. M. (2009). Testicular cancer. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.