Testicular cancer starts in the testicle or testis and is often found in men aged 15 to 44 years. It is relatively rare but treatable. The prognosis is good if diagnosed early when the tumors are small and have not spread.
The first sign of testicular cancer is a lump on the testicle which looks swollen or larger than usual. Usually, both testes are different in size and for one to hang lower than the other. Normal testicles contain blood vessels, supporting tissues and tubes that carry sperms. However, an enlarged testicle can also be due to other reasons besides cancer. For instance, fluid that collects around the testicle to form a hydrocele or veins in the testicle that dilate can cause enlargement and lumpiness around the testicle. However, some testicular cancers might not cause symptoms until they have reached an advanced stage.
Testicular self-exam is the easiest and most basic way for men to detect early cancer. The best time is during or after a bath or shower when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed.
In advanced testicular cancer, some of the symptoms are lower back pain from cancer that has spread in the lymph nodes and respiratory difficulty if it has spread to the lungs.
Cancers produce proteins which are tumor markers. If they are present in the blood, it is positive for cancer. The tumor might also increase the levels of an enzyme called lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), which often (but not always) indicates widespread disease. However, some non-cancerous conditions may also increase the LDH levels. In this case, other detailed examination by your doctor will be necessary.
During the process, the doctor will feel the testicles for swelling, tenderness as well as the size and location of any lumps. If there is a lump or other sign of testicular cancer detected, further testing will be needed to look for the cause.
From the images produced by the sound waves, your doctor can see if the change is due to a benign condition or a solid tumor that could be cancer. If the lump is solid, it is more likely to be cancer. The doctor will then recommend additional tests to be done or even surgery to remove the testicle.