Testicular cancer causes and risk factors

The cause of testicular cancer is unknown. Science has yet to establish why the germ cells in the testicles turn cancerous. However, there are certain risk factors associated with testicular cancer. These are:

  • Cryptorchidism or undescended testicle: The testicles normally form in the abdomen of a male foetus and descend into the scrotum before birth, or within three months after birth. In some cases, one or both testicles may not descend into the scrotum and remain in the abdomen. This condition is known as cryptorchidism. It can be corrected with surgery.
  • Klinefelter’s syndrome: A genetic disorder that can cause abnormal testicle development.
  • Personal or family history of testicular cancer.
  • Age between 20 and 40 years.

“Males who have a history of cryptorchidism, even if it is corrected with surgery, have a higher risk of developing testicular cancer,” says Dr Tan.

Diagnosis and stages of testicular cancer

A testicular ultrasound, blood tests to determine the level of tumour markers, removal of the affected testicle, and CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis are typically used to diagnose testicular cancer.

There are three stages of testicular cancer. In stage 1, the cancer is limited to the testicles. In stage 2, it has spread to the lymph nodes within the abdomen or pelvis. In stage 3, the cancer has spread beyond the abdomen to other parts of the body.

In advanced cases, a CT scan of the chest and the brain, may be performed to determine the extent of spread of the cancer.

“Often, testicular cancer is discovered at home during self-examination,” says Dr Tan.

Read on to learn about testicular cancer treatment.

Ref: R14