I used to check my balls everyday at Norwich City, you should too. I only missed one once at Ipswich Town!Brian Gunn (Norwich City Goalkeeper 1988 - 1997)
Men are notoriously bad at looking after themselves, but following the simple advice offered by “It’s On the Ball” can save your lifeMarc Woods (Paralympic Swimmer)
This is a very easily treated cancer, especially if caught early. If you think something is wrong, don’t sit and worry – contact your local doctor immediately!Lisa Holland (Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist)
Whilst still very rare, in many cases it has already spread at the time of diagnosis, but more than 95% of patients will be cured.
We aim to give you a few simple facts and advise of the things to look out for, as well as let you know of the support we can offer you and your families should you be affected.
This is a type of cancer that is also known as a germ cell tumour because it originates in the cells that make sperm. It occurs because the germ cells within the testicle divide and mature abnormally. It is most common among men aged between 15 and 40, although it can occur at other ages.
The most common form of testicular cancer is called a Seminoma.
The second most common type is a Non-seminoma.
Some contain elements of both and are referred to as Mixed-cell tumours.
These are classified by a histopathologist.
The most common symptoms include:
A lump within the testicle that may or may not be painful
An ache or dragging sensation within the scrotum
Swelling of the testicle
Rarely some men may find they experience back pain or breast swelling or tenderness.
If you experience any of these it is advisable to contact your GP immediately.
Most patients will begin by having an orchidectomy, which is the surgical removal of the affected testicle. This also helps with the diagnosis as the tissue removed is examined by the histopathologist.
The next stage of treatment will depend on the stage and type of your tumour. Some patients will be offered chemotherapy and others will just be monitored by their consultant oncologist.
Stage 1 – the cancer is found only within the testes.
Stage 2 – the cancer has spread to local lymph nodes within the abdomen
Stage 3 – the cancer has spread to lymph nodes within the chest or further
Stage 4 – the cancer has spread to other organs, such as the lungs or liver. These spreads are known as metastases
One of the first tests will be an ultrasound of the affected testicle. This will show any abnormalities.
Blood tests will be performed as some cancers produce chemicals known as tumour-markers.
The ones usually done for a testicular cancer are:
AFP – alpha-fetoprotein
HCG – human chorionic gonadotrophin
LDH – lactic dehydrogenase
These can be used for diagnosis, monitoring response to treatment and checking that the cancer hasn’t come back. It can take a short time after surgery for these to return to normal levels in the blood. This will be monitored by the oncology team.
Chest x-rays and CT scans will be done to determine if there has been any spread.
Even if testicular cancer has spread it is still easily treated. In this situation you will need to have a more intense chemotherapy regime that will be given as an in-patient.
Again, even if it comes back it is still easily treated with chemotherapy. Your consultant oncologist will be able to discuss treatment options with you.
The causes of testicular cancer are largely unknown, but it is more common among men that have had an undescended testicle. There is a slightly higher risk among men that have a brother or father who has had testicular cancer, and it is slightly higher among men that have smoked marijuana.
Otherwise there are no known lifestyle risk factors associated with the disease.
The easiest way is to do this after a bath or shower.
Each testicle should be checked separately.
Roll each one between the thumb and forefinger gently to feel for any lumps or bumps.
Do this once a month and get to know how each testicle feels. Any changes, see your GP.
If you have an orchidectomy there will be no affect on your fertility. The remaining testicle will produce extra sperm and hormones.
If you have chemotherapy you will be offered sperm banking before this starts, unless treatment has to be started straight away. It is unlikely that the chemotherapy will cause permanent infertility.
Sometimes there may be reduction in the sex drive, and this could be for a number of reasons.
It is possible that there will be a reduction in levels of testosterone. A simple blood test will show if this is a cause, and if necessary levels can be increased with medication.
Problems may occur because of how you feel about your diagnosis. Your oncology team can refer you to a counsellor if you need someone to talk to.
If you experience a loss of libido, talk to your oncology team and they can help work out the reasons and treat accordingly.
It’s On the Ball aims to support you by providing information from people who have been through the same experience. In some cases we can put you in touch with the people directly so that you can ask any questions you may have.
If you need to know more, please contact us or read some our own stories below
It’s On the Ball provide support and information to all patients with testicular cancer and their families. If you would like to contact us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or our oncology specialist nurse on email@example.com
There are also a number of resources which provide information about testicular cancer and cancer in general.
It’s on the Ball c/o Larking Gowen
King Street House, 15 Upper King Street
Phone: 01603 288115
Registered Charity Number: 1155510