Testicular Cancer

Cancer of the testicle occurs commonly in younger men, but can present at any age. It is usually found as a lump that may or may not be painful. A lump in the testicle must be seen by a doctor urgently, and typically requires an operation to remove the testicle. Once it is removed, the exact nature of the lump can be determined and if it is a cancerous growth that will indicate what other treatment may be needed.

In broad terms, testicular cancers can be divided into two groups: seminomas and non-seminomas. Sometimes there can be a mixture of these. Testicular cancers can also contain benign growths called teratomas, which can contain all sorts of odd things, like skin or hair, because the tumour has started from cells that are capable of forming whole humans. When a mistake occurs at cell-level, it results in a tumour and that tumour can resemble those sorts of tissues.

Testicular cancers that are confined to the testicle are often cured simply by surgically removing them, with no further treatment is required. Your doctor will want to follow up regularly, however, in case you are one of the few people where the cancer returns. Depending on the situation, you might need to have some additional treatment after surgery, such as chemotherapy (drug treatment) or radiation treatment (radiotherapy). Again, this depends on the exact details of your case.

If testicular cancer has spread elsewhere in the body it can still be cured by treatment, usually chemotherapy. This will involve more, and longer, treatment than chemotherapy that might have been given for an early cancer confined to the testicle.

Several decades ago testicular cancer was a lethal disease, but because of new treatments tested carefully in clinical trials it is now almost always curable, even when it has spread. Lance Armstrong is a great example of this. But, even though there are excellent treatments available, we still need to do better. This can only happen through understanding the science and by performing clinical trials to see which treatments are the ones most likely to help. ANZUP is involved in clinical trials in testicular carcinoma through its clinical trials program. As always, you should talk to your doctor about what options might be best for you.
For more information on ANZUP clinical trials: ANZUP Testicular Cancer Trials.
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