Understanding Testicular Cancer: Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment Options
Testicular cancer may not be as widely discussed as some other types of cancer, but it is a critical health issue that affects thousands of men each year. It is essential to raise awareness about testicular cancer, as early detection and treatment can significantly increase the chances of a full recovery. In this blog, we will explore what testicular cancer is, its risk factors, common symptoms, and available treatment options.
What is Testicular Cancer?
Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that originates in the testicles, the male reproductive glands responsible for producing sperm and hormones like testosterone. While it is relatively rare compared to other types of cancer, it primarily affects young men between the ages of 15 and 44. The good news is that when detected early, testicular cancer is highly treatable and often curable.
Understanding the risk factors associated with testicular cancer can help individuals assess their vulnerability and take preventive measures. Some of the key risk factors include:
1-Age: Testicular cancer is most commonly diagnosed in young and middle-aged men, with the highest incidence occurring between the ages of 20 and 34.
2-Cryptorchidism (Undescended Testicle): Men born with one or both testicles not descending into the scrotum are at a higher risk.
3-Family History: A family history of testicular cancer can increase the risk.
4-Race and Ethnicity: Testicular cancer is more common in white men compared to men of other racial or ethnic backgrounds.
5-Previous Testicular Cancer: Men who have had testicular cancer in one testicle are at a slightly higher risk of developing it in the other testicle.
Recognizing the symptoms of testicular cancer is crucial for early detection. Some common signs and symptoms to watch out for include:
1-A lump or swelling in one of the testicles: This is often the first noticeable symptom.
2-Pain or discomfort in the testicles or scrotum: It can be a dull ache or sharp pain.
3-Changes in testicle size or shape: One testicle may become larger or feel different compared to the other.
4-Heaviness in the scrotum: Some men may experience a feeling of fullness or pressure.
5-Backache, lower abdominal pain, or chest pain: In rare cases, testicular cancer can spread to other parts of the body, causing pain in these areas.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to consult your urologist promptly. To diagnose testicular cancer, the following tests may be conducted:
1-Physical Examination: Your doctor will perform a physical examination to check for any lumps or abnormalities in the testicles.
2-Ultrasound: An ultrasound scan of the scrotum can help determine the nature of any lumps or masses.
3-Blood Tests: Blood tests can measure specific tumor markers, such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which can be elevated in testicular cancer.
4-Biopsy: In some cases, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis by examining a tissue sample under a microscope.
The treatment of testicular cancer depends on the stage and type of cancer, as well as individual factors. Common treatment options include:
1-Surgery: The removal of the affected testicle, called a radical inguinal orchiectomy, is often the first step in treating testicular cancer. In many cases, this is curative.
2-Radiation Therapy: Radiation may be used to target cancer cells that have spread beyond the testicle.
3-Chemotherapy: This treatment option uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. Chemotherapy is often used in more advanced cases or when the cancer has spread.
4-Surveillance: In some cases, especially when the cancer is caught early, doctors may opt for a watchful waiting approach, monitoring the patient’s condition closely without immediate treatment.
Testicular cancer is a relatively rare but treatable form of cancer that primarily affects young men. Understanding the risk factors, recognizing the symptoms, and seeking prompt medical attention are crucial steps in early detection and successful treatment. If you or someone you know experiences any potential symptoms of testicular cancer, do not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can lead to a high chance of cure and a healthy future.
Maintenance Therapy For Bladder Cancer … What is the role of BCG?
Bladder cancer can come back; for this reason, the patient needs follow-up tests for years after finishing the treatment.
The best follow-up treatment is the BCG: Bacillus Calmette-Guérinthat used since 1920 to attenuated the action of the tubercle bacilli that causes tuberculosis.
The action of BCG
The local immune response is closely linked to the interaction of three systems: the patient, the BCG (Mycobacteria), and the tumor. This interaction will give rise to a cascade of immunological events, some of which will be essential for the protective action of BCG against tumor recurrence and progression. There are three phases in the immune response to BCG. First, the BCG adheres to the urothelium and then is phagocytosed by antigen-presenting cells; this phase corresponds to the early release of inflammatory cytokines. These cytokines could be involved in certain undesirable effects but they could also participate in cytotoxic phenomena. The second phase is the recognition of bacterial antigens by CD4 helper lymphocytes. This cellular activation will lead to the third phase which is the amplification of cytotoxic populations capable of killing tumor cells. All of these cells also produce cytokines that help regulate the immune response.
Indications of BCG:
BCG (powder and solvent for suspension for intravesical use) is used to :
-curative treatment of urothelial carcinoma in situ.
-prophylactic treatment of relapses of urothelial carcinoma limited to the mucosa, no muscle-invasive urothelial carcinoma, urothelial carcinoma in situ.
Protocol of injection of BCG:
2-3 weeks after TURBT ( weekly for 6 weeks).
After a cystoscopy: Maintenance therapy consists of 3 treatments at weekly intervals given for a minimum of 1 year
up to 3 years; every 3 months for 2 years, then every 6 months for 2 years, and finally yearly.
What are the side effects of BCG?
It is common for patients to experience flu-like symptoms for 2–3 days after the treatment.
Other side effects include:
-Trouble to empty your bladder.
-Blood in your urine, dark urine.
-Urinary tract infections.
-Pain when you urinate.
-Vomiting, pain in the upper part of the stomach.
-Signs of a penis infection: burning, itching, odor, discharge, pain, tenderness, redness or swelling of the genital or rectal area, fever, not feeling well.
-Yellowing of your skin or eyes.
After the treatment (after 4 to 6 hours), the patient may present bladder symptoms: sudden need to urinate, frequent urination, stomach discomfort, bloating, and possibly loss of bladder control. If these symptoms last for more than 2 days; you should consult your urologist.
Follow the link for more information about BCG.
How to diagnosis Bladder cancer?
There are many tests that help to diagnose bladder cancer.
This procedure is required to identify and diagnose bladder cancer. A cystoscope is inserted under local or general anesthesia into your bladder from the urethra to view the inside of the bladder and take a Biopsy that will be examined in the laboratory.
– Urine cytology:
A sample of your urine is analyzed under a microscope to check some tumor markers in the urine.
After confirming that you have bladder cancer, your doctor may recommend some imaging tests to determine whether your cancer has spread to your lymph nodes or to other areas of your body.
– CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis to determine if there is any propagation of the tumor outside of the bladder.
– Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan:
MRI scans show detailed images of soft tissues in the body, like CT scans; but by using radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays.
– PET scan: can detect cellular changes in organs and tissues earlier than CT and MRI scans; by injected a radioactive chemical.
– Chest X-ray is performed to detect if any cancer has propagated to the lungs.
– Bone scan may be performed to look for metastasis to cancer in the bones.
Follow the link for more information about the diagnosis of bladder cancer.
How to treat Bladder cancer?
• Radiation therapy
• immunotherapy for superficial cancers
Sometimes, combinations of these treatments will be used.
Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT):
TURBT is a procedure to diagnose bladder cancer and to remove cancers in the cells of the bladder lining (no muscle-invasive cancers). It is performed during a cystoscopy by using an electric current to cut away or burn away cancer.
– A radical cystectomy is an operation to remove all the bladder and the surrounding lymph nodes when the tumor has spread beyond the bladder. In men, radical cystectomy consists of removing the prostate and seminal vesicles; and in women, a radical cystectomy may involve the removal of the uterus, ovaries, and part of the vagina. It can be done using Robotic Surgery.
– Partial cystectomy is the removal of a section of the bladder when the tumor is only in one region of the bladder. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy is often used in combination with this procedure.
By using a drug to kill or stop the reproduction of cancerous cells.
Chemotherapy drugs can be delivered
– Intravenously: Intravenous chemotherapy is frequently used before cystectomy to have a high chance of curing cancer, or can be used to kill cancer cells that might remain after surgery.
– Intravesically directly into the bladder.
It depends on the stage of cancer.
Destroys the DNA of cancer cells by using powerful energy, like X-rays and protons.
It can be used in fusion with surgery or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy can be delivered externally or internally.
Immunotherapy is a drug treatment that helps your immune system to fight cancer, by using the body’s own immune system.
Immunotherapy can be performed:
• Directly into the bladder: Might be required after TURBT for small bladder cancers that haven’t grown into the deeper muscle layers of the bladder. This treatment uses bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), which causes an immune system reaction; so the body can kill the tumor bladder cells.
• Intravenously: Immunotherapy can be performed intravenously for bladder cancer that’s advanced or that comes back after initial treatment.
Definition of the Bladder :
The bladder is an empty muscular organ that stores urine until it is discharged out of the body through the urethra, and which is located in your lower abdomen.
Where is bladder cancer located?
Bladder cancer begins in the cells of the bladder lining, most commonly in the urothelial cells; this cancer grows and forms a tumor.
Urothelial cells are found in your kidneys and the ureters which is the connection between your kidneys and your bladder.
Urothelial cancer can occur in the kidneys and ureters, too, but it’s more common in the bladder.
When a mutation occurs in the DNA of the bladder cells; cancer begins.
Types of bladder cancer
Different types of cells in your bladder can become cancerous; the type of bladder cancer depends on where the tumor’s cells begin. Doctors use this information to determine which treatment is the best for you.
The 3 main types of bladder cancer are:
– Urothelial carcinoma
Urothelial carcinoma or transitional cell carcinoma begins in the urothelial that line the inside of the bladder. Urothelial cells dilate when your bladder is full and contract when your bladder is empty. These same cells existent inside of the ureters and the urethra; so cancer can form in those places. Urothelial carcinoma is the most frequent type of bladder cancer in the United States.
– Squamous cell carcinoma
This type of cancer is triggered by chronic irritation of the bladder due to repeated urinary tract infections, especially in countries where the parasitic infection is the cause of bladder infections; and due to long-term use of a urinary catheter.
Adenocarcinoma begins in cells that elaborate mucus-secreting glands in the bladder, and it’s very rare.
Some bladder cancers involve more than one type of cell.
Stages of Bladder Cancer…TNM staging system
This system is used by doctors to determine the stage of bladder cancer (Tumor, Nodule, and Metastasis).
Bladder cancer can be limited to the lining of the bladder or invasive (penetrating the bladder wall and possibly spreading to nearby organs or lymph nodes).
– Invasive bladder tumors can be classified from T2 (spread to the main muscle wall below the mucosa of the bladder) to T4 (tumor is extended beyond the bladder to nearby organs or the pelvic sidewall).
– Lymph node involvement classifies from N0 (no cancer in lymph nodes) to N3 (cancer in many lymph nodes, or in one or more bulky lymph nodes larger than 5 cm).
– M0 means the absence of metastasis outside of the pelvis, M1 means that the tumor has metastasized outside of the pelvis.
Follow the link for more information about stages of Bladder Cancer.
Signs of bladder cancer
Bladder cancer has no specific symptoms, so when the patient has: blood in the urine, pain during urination, frequent urination, or difficulty urinating; he should visit his urologist.
Diagnosis and Treatment
• Increasing age: especially when the patient is older than 55.
• Men have a high risk than women to develop bladder cancer.
• Certain chemicals products.
• Previous cancer treatment; a patient treated with the anti-cancer drug cyclophosphamide is at high risk of developing bladder cancer. People who already received radiation treatments focused on the pelvis for previous cancer have a higher risk of developing bladder cancer.
• Chronic bladder inflammation: due to repeated urinary infections, or long-term use of a urinary catheter; may expose the patient to bladder cancer.
• Personal or family history of bladder cancer.