ver 8,000 new cases of testicular cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2011. Testicular cancer is one of the most common that afflicts young and middle-aged men. Testicular cancer begins from what are called germ cells, which clump together and eventually cause a testicular tumor.
Individuals diagnosed with testicular cancer have a variety of options when it comes to treatments. Drugs may also be used in combination with some cancer treatments, while final prognosis is determined by whether the cancer or cancerous tumor is benign or malignant.
One of the first signs of testicular cancer involves discomfort or swelling of the scrotum. Varieties of laboratory tests are utilized to confirm a diagnosis of testicular cancer. In some cases, certain factors may affect an individual's treatment options and ultimate prognosis. Men facing testicular cancer should be aware that some treatments may cause infertility.
Some of the most common diagnostics utilized to diagnose testicular cancer include:
If tumor markers detect cancerous or tumor growth, a biopsy is also utilized to help further diagnose the cancer.
One of the first steps in the treatment of testicular cancer includes a biopsy that may remove a portion of, or the entire, testicle for a diagnosis. Complete removal of one or both testicles is known as a radical inguinal orchiectomy. Nearly 95 percent of testicular tumors are determined to be malignant. Performing an incisional biopsy on suspected cancer cells or tumors inside the body increases the risk of 'disturbing' the cancer and encouraging it to metastasize, or initiate migration of cancerous cells to other parts of the body.
A small incision is made in the groin and a tissue sample (which may include the entire testicle) of the testicle is taken for examination under a microscope. This procedure also helps the physician determine the cellular type of the cancer in order to determine an optimal treatment plan.
A number of factors affect the prognosis or recovery of an individual as well as types of treatment recommended. The stage of the cancer, where it is located in the testicle, if it has spread to other surrounding areas or other areas of the blood as well as the type of cancer and the size of tumor all have a direct impact on proposed treatment plans.
Patients diagnosed with testicular cancer have a number of treatment options including:
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are standard treatments for most types of cancer. Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy x-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells in either internal or external therapy approaches. External therapy utilizes a machine placed outside the body, and internal radiation therapy uses radioactive seeds, pellets or a catheter placed directly into the cancerous tumor. This causes less damage to surrounding tissues.
Chemotherapy utilizes drugs to prevent cancer cells from dividing. Chemotherapy may also effectively kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs are taken orally or injected into a muscle or vein.
"Watchful waiting" may be recommended for a patient who may be suspected of having testicular cancer, but before any symptoms appear. Doctors carefully monitor the individual through this period.
High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplantation is one of the newer methodologies that offers high-dose chemotherapy. Stem cell therapy replaces the cells destroyed by that cancer treatment with these stem cells, or immature blood cells. Immature blood cells are removed from the patient's bone marrow or blood prior to the chemotherapy. Blood or bone marrow may also be taken from a donor. Following the chemotherapy, the stored stem cells are injected by infusion (IV) into the patient. The body benefits from the new supply of healthy, cancer free blood cells.
Chemotherapy treatments for testicular cancer may cost upward of $35,000. Testing and diagnostics may cost an additional thousand dollars. Chemotherapy alone may cost nearly $50,000 for some patients, while testicular removal may cost approximately $3,500. For some patients, costs include surgery, radiation or chemotherapy treatments, anti-nausea drugs, checkups, and several CT scans during the year following diagnosis. Surgeon's fees may add an additional $5,000 to those costs, and medical center or hospital stays may add another $4,000 to $5,000 in costs.
Individuals traveling to foreign destinations such as Europe, South America or Asia may save up to 50% on costs of the same surgical procedures and medications offered and performed in the U.S..
When looking for a doctor to help treat cancer, patients should look for cancer specialists. These specialists are trained in the field of oncology. Patients should look for experience, training, and that the specialist of their choice has been board-certified in specific areas of medicine. The physician who is board-certified in medical oncology or surgery will ensure their qualifications in their field.
In most cases, primary care physicians will refer patients to a cancer specialist. Medical organizations such as the American Medical Association, or the American College of Surgeons will be able to offer the names of cancer specialists, as well as through cancer organizations throughout the country of origin.
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