A focus on testicular cancer

What is testicular cancer?

The testicles are part of the male reproductive system and multiplication of abnormal cells that develop within the testes leads to testicular cancer. This typically develops in one testicle, but in some cases, both can be affected. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer after skin cancer in men aged 18-39. About 800 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year in Australia. It can strike young and is the second most common cancer affecting men aged 18-29.

What are the risk factors?

Personal history: Men who have had cancer in one testicle are 25 times more likely to develop cancer in the other testicle.

Undescended testes: A condition where before birth, the testes remain in the male baby’s abdomen. By birth, or within the infant’s first year of life, the testes typically move down into their appropriate position on their own.

If the testicles do not descend by themselves, surgeons will perform an operation to bring them down. Although this operation reduces the risk of cancer, men born with undescended testes are still approximately 16 times more likely to develop testicular cancer in comparison to men born without this condition.

Family history: Gene mutations can be passed on within the family. A man with a father or brother who has experienced testicular cancer is slightly more at risk of cancer. However, family history is only a contributing factor in about 2% of men diagnosed with testicular cancer. If you are concerned with your genetic risk factors, speak to your doctor about genetic testing.

Infertility: Having difficulty conceiving a baby is associated with testicular cancer and is considered a risk factor.

What are the symptoms?

  • Swelling or a lump in the testicle, both typically painless
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • A change in the size or shape of the testicle(s)
  • A feeling of unevenness between the testicles
  • Aches or pain in the lower abdomen, testicle or scrotum
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the breast tissue
  • Back pain
  • Stomach-aches

Self-examination is an important step in catching testicular cancer early

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump or swelling in the testicle. Regular self-exams can help identify these growths early when the chance of successful treatment is greatest. The Testicular Cancer Foundation has compiled a useful resource to help you learn what to look for in a self-examination. Click here to read on.

Treatment options

Testicular cancer is a highly treatable cancer and can be effectively treated, and often cured if detected early. Early detection is key. The most important step is to speak to your doctor if you suspect any changes.

What foods support testicular health?

Antioxidant foods and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are great options to support testicular health, and male reproductive health in general. These foods are also rich in vitamin E, chromium, zinc, and other nutrients that help to boost and protect the health of the entire male reproductive system. Here are some specific examples of stellar superstar foods:

  • Red, orange, and yellow peppers
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Brazil nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Organic salmon
  • Oatmeal

For more information about testicular cancer prevention and detection, you can head to the Movember Webpage here. If you notice any changes or would like a check-up call 02 9252 2225 to book in with one of our GP’s today.

Other resources on Testicular Cancer include:

https://testicularcancer.org/ – Testicular Cancer Organisation

http://www.aballsysenseoftumor.com/ – An insightful blog from a testicular cancer survivor

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