Answered by Ariel Foxman on Monday, June 01, 2009
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 6,900 men will be diagnosed with new cases of testicular cancer this year—the majority between ages 15 and 40—ike Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong. "This is a relatively uncommon illness," says oncologist Steven Wolff, M.D., professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, "but for young men it's the most common cancer." Most testicular tumors evolve from germ cells, the sperm-forming cells inside the testicles. "The first sign in most men is a painless swelling of one of the testicles," explains Dr. Wolff, "although pain can sometimes occur." This hard lump can be accompanied by some localized swelling or enlargement as well as by a heavy or aching sensation in the lower abdomen or scrotal area. Some men also experience a significant shrinking of a testicle or a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum; lower back pain; breast tenderness; and breast enlargement. The ACS recommends that a man do monthly self-exams; if he's experiencing these symptoms, he should check with a doctor. "A urologist specializes in this disease system, but if an appointment with your family practitioner is easier or quicker, that's fine too," says Dr. Wolff. Statistics show that testicular cancer is highly treatable, with a cure rate that exceeds 90 percent in all stages combined. "It's really important for men not to ignore symptoms and to get them evaluated," warns Dr. Wolff. "Even in the worst situations, there is no reason to be fearful about the consequences of the disease, because it is so curable. And the earlier the diagnosis, the easier the treatment will be."