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Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American males between the ages of 15 and 34. Though the disease is highly treatable, early detection is important to ensure a positive outcome.
"Testicular cancer is one of those types of cancer that tends to affect younger men," ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "It's actually the most common cancer in American males who are between the ages of 15 and 34. Men at that age tend to take health for granted. There's no defined test [for testicular cancer] except for self-exam," he adds.
The exact cause of testicular cancer is unknown. The disease usually develops in the germ cells, which generate immature sperm within the testicles.
According to the Mayo Clinic, men with an undescended testicle have an increased risk of developing testicular cancer, as do those with a family history of the disease.
• Pain or tenderness in the scrotal region
• A lump or growth
• Swollen or enlarged testicle
• A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
• A hefty feeling in the scrotum
"It's not normal to have pain down there," Dr. Travis says. If you experience any discomfort in your scrotum, or notice a growth, it's important to seek treatment immediately.
"I think what happens a lot with young guys who get this is that they're reluctant to go to the doctor. They're embarrassed about it. They don't want to go pursue what's going on, and that's how they end up dying from the disease," comedian and cancer survivor Tom Green says.
The type of treatment will depend on the type and stage of the disease. Urologic oncologist Dr. Sia Daneshmand says that the earlier the cancer is detected, the easier the treatment will be. Common treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgical removal of the testicle.
Dr. Daneshmand says that before any surgery, men are asked if they would like to bank their sperm in case their fertility is affected. And plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon notes that men can choose to get an implant to replace the testicle if it has to be removed.
“If you’re a young guy ... and you think something is wrong, go to the doctor, it could save your life,” Green says. “It’s very important, and do it. Don’t wait.”