Testicular cancer occurs in the testes, which are located inside the scrotum- a loose bag of skin under the penis. Testicles produce testosterone, a hormone that produces sperm for reproduction. Testicular cancer is rare when compared to other types of cancer and affects males between the ages of 15 and 35 years. This type of cancer is highly treatable, even when it spreads beyond the testicles.
However, there are risk factors that increase the chances of suffering from this type of cancer. Some of the risk factors are mentioned below:
- Undescended testicle
It is believed to be the primary risk factor for testicular cancer. Also known as cryptorchidism, it is a condition in which both the testicles fail to move (descend) from the abdomen into the scrotum before birth. Most of the time, the undescended testicles move into the scrotum (or in the groin area) in the child’s first year of life. In other cases, a surgical procedure known as orchiopexy might be performed to move the testicle down into the scrotum.
- Family history
As it is with most form of cancers, there is an increased risk of suffering from testicular cancer if someone in the family has suffered from this type of cancer. Other than this, Klinefelter’s syndrome is an inherited disease that also increases the risk of suffering from testicular cancer.
- Carcinoma in situ
It is a condition when the cancerous growth or the tumor is still confined to the local site, that is, where it started. Unlike other forms of cancer, carcinoma in situ does not form lumps in the testicles. However, oncologists have observed that men with this type of growth in the epithelial cells are more prone to suffer from testicular cancer.
- HIV infection
Surveys and evidence have shown that men suffering from HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and particularly AIDS are at higher risk of suffering from testicular cancer. It is also the only infection that is a risk factor for testicular cancer.
It is one of the most crucial factors that act as risk factors for testicular cancer. About half the cases of testicular cancer are in people who are between the ages of 20 and 35 years.
Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer
Some men with testicular cancer might exhibit no symptoms at all. They might realize that they are suffering from the same while undergoing fertility tests. Some of the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer are mentioned below:
- Swelling in the testicle
It is usually the first sign of cancer. The testicle becomes swollen or larger due to the formation of a malignant tumor. Some testicular lumps might be painful. Men with testicular cancer in the form of a lump might also feel a heaviness and aching in the lower belly or scrotum.
- Early puberty in boys
Some Leydig cells can produce male sex hormones called androgens. These cells tend to form a tumor but do not exhibit any symptoms for the same. However, it is seen that boys with androgen-producing tumors can cause early signs of puberty, such as the deepening of their voice and growth of facial and body hair.
- Breast growth and soreness
There are rare cases in which germ cells can lead to the growth of male breasts. This happens because germ cells tend to produce high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates breast development.