One of the most confusing aspects of testicular cancer is its chief sign and symptom. Does back pain make you think a problem with the testicles?
What is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is an abnormal growth of the germ cells in the testes.
Germ cells can grow into anything, like stem cells. They normally stay dormant, but when they become cancerous they become tumors that start to invade normal tissue. Once this happens, the cells have the potential to transform into embryonic tissue like hair, teeth, or nails.
It most commonly affects only one testicle, but can occur in both. However, if one testicle is affected, the other usually stays cancer-free. If cancer relapses after treatment, it is in another area or system of the body.
Can Testicular Cancer Spread?
It can metastasize, spreading cancer through the lymph nodes and bloodstreams to the lungs, bones, or brain. If not detected early, the tumors can grow rapidly with the ability to double in size in just 10 – 30 days (Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation).
Who is At Risk?
Testicular cancer can affect any male between infancy and elderly. The highest rate is males between the ages of 15 – 35 (Mayo Clinic).
What are the Symptoms of Testicular Cancer?
Its symptoms do not immediately seem to indicate an issue with the testicles. The most common indication is back pain. Other symptoms include:
- a dull ache in the abdomen or groin area
- enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
- a lump or enlargement in a testicle
- pain and discomfort in the testicle or scrotum
If these signs and symptoms persist and last longer than two weeks, an appointment should be scheduled with the doctor.
How to Check for Testicular Abnormalities
Like the women’s self-check exam for breast cancer, men can check the testicles at least once a month, in the shower or while changing. Check out this video and infographic: