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Testicular Cancer

UPMC Content 2

Testicular Cancer Overview

Testicular cancer is malignant tumor of one or both testicles, the male sex glands located inside the scrotum, the sac of skin that hangs underneath the penis.

The testicles are responsible for production and storage of sperm and are the main source of male hormones.

Testosterone, the most abundant male hormone, controls the development of the reproductive organs and other male characteristics, such as facial and body hair, deep voice, and sex drive.

An average of 7,000 cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.

It is the most common cancer in young men between the ages of 15 and 35, although the disease can occur at any age. Men who have an undescended testicle (one that never moved into the scrotum) are at increased risk, even if they have had surgery to correct th e condition.

The risk of testicular cancer for White American men is five times greater than for African Americans and more than double that of Asian American men. A personal or family history of testicular cancer also increases the risk.

Diagnosing Testicular Cancer

In most cases, symptoms include a painless or uncomfortable lump, or an enlargement or swelling in the testicle. Men may also experience a sensation of heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen or scrotum.

These symptoms may also be caused by conditions other than testicular cancer. Therefore, getting a correct diagnosis is very important.

Testicular Cancer Treatment

When testicular cancer is found early, it is always curable. Studies show that the five-year survival rate for early stages of testicular cancer is greater than 95 percent. In cases where the cancer has spread beyond local lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is 75 percent.

The Department of Urology provides expert diagnosis and treatment of testicular cancer. The main treatment options are surgery, external beam radiation therapy, and in more advanced cases, chemotherapy.

Surgery to remove the cancerous testicle is a common treatment for most stages of testicular cancer. Only the diseased testicle is removed; very few men ever develop a tumor in the other testicle. After surgery, the affected side of the scrotum will look flat and empty.

A number of men opt for surgery to implant a testicular prosthesis (an artificial testicle). Filled with silicone gel, the prosthesis is matched to the size of the remaining testicle and restores a natural look and feel to the scrotum. The scar from the surge ry is often partly hidden by pubic hair.

The Department of Urology is also experienced in performing surgery to remove cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes, while sparing the nerves responsible for ejaculation.

For patient referral or consultations, contact the Department of Urology at 412-692-4100.