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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
22 Apr 2023

NextImg:Most Common Cancer in Men Under 40: 4 Symptoms to Watch Out For

According to the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation, a male is diagnosed with testicular cancer every hour. It can affect men at any age, but unlike other cancers, it’s much more prevalent in young people.

The odds of getting testicular cancer are about 1 in 270.

However, it’s most common among men 20 to 40 years old and is the second-most common malignancy in young men from 15 to 19, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Worldwide, the risk of testicular cancer is highest in the United States and Europe.

“In fact, the most common age range for men to be diagnosed with testicular cancer is between 15 and 35 years old,” Dr. Christopher Hartman, chief of urology at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, part of Northwell Health in New York, told The Epoch Times.

There are two primary types of testicular cancer: seminoma and non-seminoma. Seminoma cancer typically grows more slowly than the non-seminoma type and usually happens to men between 25 and 45. Non-seminoma cancers frequently occur earlier in life—teens to early 30s—and can spread faster.

Testicular cancer typically presents with several early signs and symptoms, which include:

  1. A lump or swelling in one or both testicles.
  2. Pain or discomfort in the testicles or scrotum.
  3. Heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen or groin area.
  4. Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts due to hormone changes.

It’s important to note that other conditions can cause these symptoms, and not all testicular cancers cause symptoms. Therefore, seeing a health care provider is crucial if you experience any unusual symptoms or changes in your testicles.

Men are often embarrassed to discuss their reproductive health, including abnormalities they may encounter on self-examination. Additionally, men often believe or hope that abnormalities, including testicular masses, that they encounter upon examination will go away.

“When these abnormalities persist and they seek evaluation,” said Hartman, “it is often weeks to months later, resulting in a delay in diagnosis and treatment.”

“Detected early, testicular cancer is often more easily treated and cured,” said Hartman. “Overall cure rates for testicular cancer are very high.”

The five-year relative survival rate is 95 percent overall, and 99 percent in men diagnosed early.

One of the most common ways testicular cancer is detected is through a physical exam, which a health care provider usually does.

During the exam, the provider will feel the testicles to check for any lumps, swelling, or other abnormalities. They will also check the scrotum for signs of fluid accumulation, which can be a sign of testicular cancer.

If a lump or other abnormality is found during a physical exam, the health care provider may order additional tests, such as an ultrasound, to get a closer look at the testicles. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the inside of the body and can help to determine whether a lump is cancerous or benign.

In some cases, blood tests may also help detect testicular cancer.

These tests measure the levels of specific proteins, such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which are often elevated in men with testicular cancer.

While blood tests alone are insufficient for diagnosing testicular cancer, they can provide vital information to help guide further testing and treatment.

In rare cases, a biopsy may be needed to confirm a diagnosis of testicular cancer. During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the testicle and examined under a microscope to determine if it’s cancerous. Men must be aware of the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer and seek medical attention if they notice any changes in the size, shape, or consistency of the testicles, or experience pain or discomfort in the scrotum or groin area.

The consequences of not treating testicular cancer can be both physically and emotionally significant.

If left untreated, testicular cancer can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, lungs, and liver. In some cases, the cancer can even be fatal.

In addition to the risk of cancer spreading and becoming more challenging to treat, men with untreated testicular cancer may experience pain and discomfort in the affected testicle, as well as other symptoms. These include swelling, lumps, and changes in the size or shape of the testicle.

The stress and anxiety of living with an untreated cancer diagnosis can also take a significant toll on a person’s mental health and well-being.

“Certain things may increase the risk of testicular cancer in men,” explained Hartman. “First, men with a family history of testicular cancer, particularly in a close relative such as a father or brother, have a higher likelihood of developing testicular cancer.”

Additionally, men with an undescended testicle, also called cryptorchidism, have a much higher likelihood of developing testicular cancer. An undescended testicle can be surgically corrected, and the earlier this is done may help to reduce the risk of developing testicular cancer.

“By bringing the testicle into the scrotum, it allows both men and their doctors to evaluate for earlier signs of testicular cancer,” said Hartman.

“Furthermore, white men are about four to five times more likely to develop testicular cancer than other races, such as black and Asian men.”

Once a testicular mass is confirmed, a computerized tomography (CT) scan may be utilized to assess whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Then, surgery is routinely performed to remove the cancerous organ.

The testicle is entirely, or in some instances, partially removed, by a procedure requiring a small groin incision. This can often be performed as a simple outpatient procedure.

Depending on the type of testicular cancer, this may be the only treatment necessary for men diagnosed early and whose cancer hasn’t spread. Men with more aggressive disease, or disease not detected before metastasis, could require radiation, chemotherapy, or more extensive surgery to treat the disease sites.

“These treatments are typically more debilitating, though still allow for a very high cure rate of testicular cancer,” Hartman noted.

While it is difficult to mitigate the risk of developing testicular cancer entirely, certain things may help to reduce the risk of developing testicular cancer.

Hartman recommends that men maintain a healthy lifestyle by avoiding tobacco products and keeping a healthy weight, which may reduce their risk.

“Importantly, men can improve their chances of cure should they develop testicular cancer by performing self-testicular exams on a monthly basis,” he added. “This allows for earlier diagnosis and shorter, more manageable treatment options should a man develop testicular cancer.”