Testicular cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the testicles, which are responsible for producing male hormones and sperm for reproduction. According to the American Cancer Society, over 8,000 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in 2015 and nearly 400 men will die of testicular cancer this year in the United States.
Even though many of the symptoms that are indicative of testicular cancer are more likely to be caused by something else, you should see your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms. If a testicular tumor is causing your symptoms, the sooner it is found, the sooner you can begin treatment, and the more likely the treatment will be successful.
Usually, the first symptom is either a lump on the testicle or swelling of the testicle. Sometimes, the tumor might cause pain, but this is not always the case. The tumor might also cause you to feel a sense of heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen or scrotum.
Another common symptom of testicular cancer is swelling or tenderness in the breasts. This is because germ cell tumors (the most common type of testicular tumor) will often secrete high levels of the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone, which is responsible for breast development. Additionally, other types of testicular tumors can cause your body to produce more estrogen, the female sex hormone, which can cause breast growth as well as loss of sexual desire.
In rare cases, a testicular tumor can cause an excess amount of androgens to be produced, which are the male sex hormones. If this happens in a grown man, he might not notice any irregular symptoms. However, if this occurs in a young boy, it could cause him to experience signs of puberty at an abnormally young age, such as growth of facial and body hair and deepening of the voice.
If testicular cancer becomes advanced and begins to spread to other parts of the body, you might experience other symptoms. These include:
- Shortness of breath, coughing, or chest pain: If the cancer has spread to the lungs, it could cause these symptoms, as well as coughing up blood in some cases.
- Stomach pain: This could occur because the cancer has spread to the liver, or because the lymph nodes are enlarged.
- Lower back pain: If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the back of the abdomen, it could cause lower back pain.
- Headaches or confusion: If the cancer has spread to the brain, it could cause psychological symptoms such as headaches or confusion.
It is also likely that you could have testicular cancer and exhibit no symptoms whatsoever. In these cases, the cancer is usually detected while testing for other conditions. This could include imaging tests that might uncover a small testicular tumor.