St. Louis Testicular Cancer Doctor
A common and often curable form of cancer typically found in young men.
Each year nearly 10,000 men, most between 18 and 40 years old are diagnosed with testicular cancer.
What is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is a type of malignancy that originates within the testicle. Most testicular cancers arise from germ cells (sperm producing cells). There are two major categories of germ cell cancer:
- Seminoma – somewhat more common and slower growing
- Non-seminoma– more aggressive but also very commonly curable.
A small number of testicular tumors, (<5%) are other types tumors, some of which are benign.
There are no known activities or exposures that increase the risk of testicular cancer. The primary risk factors are:
- History of an undescended testicle at birth
- History of a prior testicular cancer
What to Look For
Testicular cancer commonly presents with new swelling of the testicle. This may have associated pain, discomfort, or a feeling of heaviness of the testicle. Often the testicle will feel enlarged and possibly firm or have irregular contours different from the smooth and relatively soft texture of a normal testicle. Testicular self-exam is an important way to evaluate for any abnormalities. Back pain, abdominal pain, or weight loss can also be symptoms of more advanced testicular cancer.
Examination of the testicle is often the first test to determine if a testicular cancer is present. If there is a question of testicular cancer, typically an ultrasound is obtained to evaluate for a mass. If a mass is found, blood tests and more advanced imaging (CT scans) will likely be obtained to determine the extent of disease.
Treating Your Cancer
The most common initial step after confirming a testicular mass is to remove the affected testicle. This is a relatively low-risk, typically outpatient surgery. This procedure serves as both a therapeutic intervention to remove the cancer (for many this is the only treatment needed) and provides important diagnostic intervention regarding the type of cancer and the degree of local involvement. This information is important for determining if further therapy will be needed.
A somewhat rare procedure done to remove only the affected portion of the testicle in specific circumstances.
An operation to remove affected lymph nodes in cases of more advance testicular cancer. This can be a component of a curative treatment plan in men when needed.
Medication given to treat some cases of testicular cancer. This may be used for men with more advanced testicular cancer or in men with higher-risk localized tumors to reduce the risk of future disease.
Radiation therapy is a treatment that is occasionally used for some cases of Seminoma.
Many resources are available to men if one or more of their treatments could have an impact on possible future ability to have children. Our team has experts in male reproduction who can help connect patients to resources to preserve fertility when needed.
Many men will go through treatment and avoid major impacts on fertility, but for some (e.g, those requiring chemotherapy, radiation, or lymph node removal) fertility considerations may be very important. In addition to cancer treatment planning, our team has extensive experience in providing counseling and resources for these services when needed.
Make an Appointment
We welcome new patients and patients from our former practices. Please call your local office to make an appointment.