Testicular cancer is one of the less common cancers in the UK, but it’s still important to be aware of symptoms. One of the most recognised signs is a painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles, or any change in shape or texture of the testicles.
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Other symptoms include a dull ache or sharp pain in the testicles or scrotum, which may come and go, and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
But if testicular cancer spreads to other parts of the body, a person may experience other symptoms.
The NHS explains: “Cancer that’s spread to other parts of the body is known as metastatic cancer.
“Around 5 percent of people with testicular cancer will experience symptoms of metastatic cancer.
“The most common place for testicular cancer to spread is nearby lymph nodes in your tummy (abdomen) or lungs.
“Lymph nodes are glands that make up your immune system.
“Less commonly, the cancer can spread to your liver, brain or bones.”
One of the symptoms of metastatic testicular cancer is a persistent cough.
Most coughs are caused by a cold or flu and accompanied by a blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, a raised temperature and headaches.
If your cough doesn’t improve after three weeks or it gets worse, you should see a GP.
In some cases a persistent cough can be a sign of a lung cancer – one of the most common and serious types of cancer.
Other symptoms of metastatic testicular cancer include:
- Coughing or spitting up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling and enlargement of male breasts
- A lump or swelling in your neck
- Lower back pain
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Testicular cancer treatment
The three main treatments for testicular cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but treatment depends on the stage of the cancer.
Macmillan Cancer Support explains: “For some men surgery to remove the testicle may be the only treatment that’s needed.
“After surgery, you’ll be asked to come back to go to the clinic regularly to have your tumour markers measured, as well as other tests.
“This is called surveillance. If the cancer comes back, scans and blood tests will help your doctors pick it up early and treatment can usually cure it.
“You may need treatment with chemotherapy after surgery. This is known as adjuvant treatment. It’s given to reduce the small risk of the cancer coming back.”
What causes testicular cancer?
The exact cause of testicular cancer is unknown, but there are risk factors that have been associated with the condition.
The main risk factor is being born with an undescended testicle, says Bupa.
The health organisation explains: “This means that one or both of your testicles stayed in your abdomen rather than going down into your scrotum.
“Your testicles may have moved down later, or you may have needed a surgical operation to bring them down.
“If you’ve had an undescended testicle you’re three times more likely to develop testicular cancer than men who didn’t have this problem. And if you don’t have this corrected by the age of 13, you may be up to six times more likely to develop testicular cancer.”
Other risk factors include having had testicular cancer in the other testicle previously, having a brother or father who has had testicular cancer, and having fertility problems and low quality sperm.
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