TESTICULAR CANCERS are represented by testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs), which include Seminoma and non-seminoma histological types. TGCT is common among males in the age group between 15 and 34 years and after 50 years of age. The lowest death rate is in India about 0.5 per 1000. Testicular Cancer is the result of a combination of a number of factors like- genetic, environmental, hormonal, undescended testis, personal factors, family history, age and infertility.
SHY TO TALK ABOUT TESTICULAR CANCER?
Recently a man of 23 years was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The mother was shattered and the boy did not understand what to do. Today we openly talk about Breast Cancer, but we shy away to discuss about testicular cancer. If it can be detected early it can be cured. The men should understand that male sex hormones and sperms are produced in the testicles and testicular cancer or cancer of the testes, occur in these organs.
The youngest survivor in the world is a British boy. His parents were dumbfounded, but the brave boy battled the disease. His father supports him, as his lost his hair he too tonsured his head.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF TESTICULAR CANCER:
- The symptoms include:
- A painless lump in the testicle,
- A swollen testicle,
- Different sized testicles,
- Heaviness in the scrotum,
- Pain in the testicle, scrotum or groin ( the area between the belly and thigh ).
HOW IS TESTICULAR CANCER DIAGNOSED?
Testicular cancer is diagnosed when a lump is found in the testicle. A Urologist examines the lump, orders for an ultra sound, blood tests, biopsy, chest X-ray, an MRI, and a CT scan.
Testicular cancer occurs when cancer cells form in one or both the testicles. These cells divide uncontrollably and form a tumor or lump. Sometimes a male child is born with abnormalities of the penis, kidney or testicles, born with hernia in the groin.
Like breast cancer, testicle cancer is detected easily if boys check for lumps by holding one testicle at a time between the thumbs and fingers of both hands and by rolling it gently between the fingers to check for lumps. If diagnosed early 95% of the men recover fully after receiving the treatment.
HOW IS A TESTICULAR CANCER TREATED?
A care team helps the patients to get the best treatment. The team includes—
A Urologist, An Oncologist and a Surgeon.
Depending on the type of cancer and its spread the doctors decide the treatment.
a) removes the cancer without removing the testicle,
b) or removes the cancer and the testicle,
c) or a surgery that removes lymph nodes.
d) when surgery is done it is seen that chances of reproduction and intimacy with partner is not affected.
2. CHEMOTHERAPY: treatment with medicines to destroy and stop the growth of cancer cells. Chemo is given to patients with advanced Testicular Cancer.
3. RADIATION THERAPY: Treatment with high-energy radiation to destroy the cancer cells.
CAN PEOPLE WITH TESTICULAR CANCER STILL HAVE CHILDREN?
Boys who have had one testicle removed and have one healthy testicle can have children later in life. Doctors even recommend sperm banking before treatment begins for future use. Sometimes immure sperm cells are removed for future use, this is known as Sperm Aspiration.
WHAT AFTER TREATMENT?
Regular follow-up is a must doctors examine the patient again by getting a few blood tests done, a chest X-ray is needed, CT scan of the belly and pelvis should be taken regularly maybe for years.
There is possibility that the survivors of testicular cancer can get a second cancer. Maybe another testicular cancer or other types like-rectal, bladder, kidney or thyroid cancer. If the patient is regular in his follow up visits then it helps to find these tumors early and the treatment can start immediately.
HOW CAN PARENTS HELP?
0nce diagnosed, patients experience fear, horror, anxiety, depression, anger or a combination of all. Parents and spouse must stand by them and give hope of a better life once treated. The patient is master of his destiny so gather courage and move for treatment as your health is your responsibility.
1) Regular visits to the doctor,
2) Remind the son to self-examine and inform the doctor if he finds anything unusual,
3) If the child feels self-conscious because of the removal of his testes take him to a therapist, who can talk to him and come out of his shyness.
4) The treatment can also be stressful to the family, so visiting the care team with questions or concerns will help the patient and the family to face the situation bravely.
5) Within 4 weeks post-surgery the patient can go back to work and perform his daily activities.
6) Avoid physical exertion and sex for a minimum of 2-3 months.
HOW CAN PARENTS HELP?
A 27-year-old Indian male who loved cycling, traveling and photography enjoyed life, was active, ate well and was healthy. But in a span of a few days felt a sharp pain in his groin, did not take it seriously and when the pain continued and could barely ride his bike went to a doctor and after examination and a few test was diagnosed with testicular cancer. His world came to a standstill as no one likes to hear the three fearful words—You Have Cancer. Many questions arose in his mind- No family history, so how?
Am I going to die? Can I father children? As it was diagnosed early the treatment was easy. Today he leads a normal life all this was possible with the support of his family, friends, physicians and professors. He is very thankful and leads a positive and a healthy life.
There are similar survivors and with their positive mindset educate and inspire the other testicular cancer patients.
One of them by name Mr. Mark Klein says,“ Every day that I wake up is the start of a new day. I have had many different names in my life, but the best ones are ‘inspiration’ and ‘survivor.”