Testicular cancer: what are the alarm bells?
Testicular cancer is considered a rare neoplasm, but it is also one of the most frequent in young people, particularly between the ages of 15 and 34: in fact, around 2000 cases are diagnosed in Italy each year
The prognosis for testicular cancer is generally good, but it can cause complicated problems for the patient, including psychological ones, such as reduced fertility.
Testicular cancer: risk factors
The testicle is the male organ responsible for the production of spermatozoa and male sex hormones (testosterone).
Tumour of the testicle, which tends to manifest itself as a hard, indolent lump to the touch, is caused by an uncontrolled proliferation of its cells, in particular the germ cells, from which the spermatozoa develop.
There are certain factors that can increase the risk of developing testicular cancer.
These include cryptorchidism, i.e. the failure of the scrotum to descend into the testicle during childhood, and abnormal testicular development caused by genetic diseases, as well as a history of familial disease.
It should be borne in mind that habitual consumption of marijuana may also increase the likelihood of testicular cancer.
The warning signs of testicular cancer
Like all cancers, testicular cancer should be diagnosed as early as possible.
In the past, screening of the male genitals was carried out at the same time as the military service examination, which is no longer done.
This is why it is so important to teach young people the importance of prevention and self-examination, through which one can become aware of any changes in the testicle and contact a specialist urologist to investigate the situation.
In addition to the presence of a lump, visible changes in the shape and size of the testicle or recurrent pain in the lower abdomen may also be a cause for concern.
During the urological examination, the specialist will assess the situation and indicate, if appropriate, the need for further tests.
In particular, for the diagnosis of testicular cancer, scrotal echocolordoppler is necessary, in addition to blood tests.
Surgery: What is involved in removing the testicle?
Depending on the patient’s clinical situation and the stage reached at the time of diagnosis, testicular cancer can be treated in various ways.
In almost all cases, orchifuniculectomy by the inguinal route, i.e. removal of the testicle with eventual placement of a testicular prosthesis, is the first treatment that allows on the one hand histological characterisation and, in clinically localised forms, treatment of the neoplasm.
Subsequent strategies vary according to histology and stage and range from active surveillance to chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
In more severe cases, removal of retroperitoneal lymph nodes may also be necessary.
The multidisciplinary approach is also very important, allowing proper attention to be paid to all aspects of the disease, from oncology to fertility preservation.
It should be noted that, if diagnosed and treated promptly, testicular cancer shows a survival rate of more than 95%.
In fact, testicular cancer is a neoplasm with one of the highest survival rates to date.