Cancer can occur anywhere in the body when your cells stop performing normally. The body gets rid of old or abnormal cells in the typical process. However, cancer produces excessive cells, preventing the old ones from dying. In addition, cancer cells that continue to grow can outnumber normal cells. Testicular cancer occurs when the process starts in the testicles, causing testicular anxiety and the emotional impact of rational concerns about health.
Noticing the Signs and Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
Awareness of changes in your body can alert you to the possible onset of testicular cancer. Because cancer and mental health affect each other, you may find some confusing situations. You notice many signs and symptoms that may resemble noncancerous conditions, understandably arousing your cancer emotions. In addition to physical reactions to treatment, you can expect to experience some emotional effects of cancer.
Changes that may provide symptoms of testicular cancer include these:
- blood clot
- bloody phlegm
- breast tenderness
- chest pain
- heaviness in the scrotum
- enlarged testicle
- fluid buildup in the scrotum
- lower abdomen or dull groin ache
- lower back pain
- painless lump on either testicle with swelling
- pain or numbness in the testicle or scrotum without swelling
- shortness of breath
Understanding the Risk Factors
Some factors that may increase your risk can respond to change, but others cannot. For example, smoking and diet present cancer risks that anyone can choose to change. Age and family history may also create risks, but no one can change them. Simply stated, a risk factor tends to increase the chance of having cancer or another disease, but scientists have found only a few links.
Some people get testicular cancer with no risk factors; others have risks but never get cancer.
While most males with testicular cancer have no risk factors, the list includes these:
- body size
- certain races and ethnicities
- carcinoma in situ of the testicle
- family history of testicular cancer
- HIV infection
- previous testicular cancer occurrence
- undescended testicle
Considering your Treatment Options
Advances in treatment offer approach that depend on the type of cancer and its stage of development, and other factors.
- Surgery – Usually the first treatment for testicular cancer, surgery allows the removal of a testicle and the spermatic cord. Most patients with testicular cancer receive radical inguinal orchiectomy, including those whose cancer has spread. Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection removes lymph nodes along with the orchiectomy or may require a second surgery. Not all patients need to have the procedure. Some cases allow a surgeon to remove lymph nodes with laparoscopic surgery as a less invasive process that allows quicker recovery and less pain.
- Radiation – High energy beams stronger than X-rays can kill cancer cells in the lymph nodes, usually occurring after the orchiectomy. Painless and requiring only a few minutes, radiation treatment can cause fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Chemotherapy – Drugs delivered as pills or injections, chemo attacks cancer cells in lymph nodes or other areas of the body. Patients receive it to treat cancer that has spread beyond the testicle and to help prevent recurrence after the orchiectomy. Side effects include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, mouth sores, and increased risk of infection.
- High-Dose Chemotherapy and Stem Cell Transplant for Testicular Cancer – When testicular cancer does not respond as well as doctors expect, a stem cell transplant offers an alternative.
Experiencing the Emotional Impact of a Testicular Cancer Diagnosis
Almost everyone acknowledges that the unknown facts about cancer create anxiety, anger, sadness, or fear. Emotions and cancer cause some patients to have sleeplessness or other reactions because of the uncertainty it creates. Cancer treatment and care may take a long time, and you can help reduce your stress level for the journey. Focus on the reality that treatment works and you have excellent care.
Powerful cancer emotions can require you to develop strategies to deal with the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis. While you understand that you cannot control the situation, you can find ways to cope. Testicular cancer support can come from talking to your health team, a counselor, or friends who may help you through difficult times. In addition, learning as much as possible about your condition can lessen the emotional effects of cancer.
Realizing the Emotional Impact on Family Members
When you feel alone and frightened, remember that testicular cancer has a cure rate of more than 90%. Usually occurring in males aged 15-40 years, it emotionally affects family members and caregivers who want to help. Spouses, children, parents, and friends can provide the testicular cancer support to return to full health.