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Sharp Health News

Testicular cancer: what you need to know

April 21, 2017

Testicular cancer: what you need to know

Considered rare, testicular cancer affects nearly 9,000 individuals in the United States each year, making up only 1 percent of cancer cases in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute.

If you or a loved one is living with this disease, knowing what to expect and learning more about the condition can help manage fears and expectations. The good news is that this type of cancer has a high 5-year survival rate of over 95 percent with excellent results, even in advanced stage cases.

About cancer of the testes
“It’s important to recognize the fact that male testes are formed out of several different cells — cells to create sperm, cells to develop hormones such as testosterone, and more — and each of these cells can develop into different types of cancer,” explains Dr. Kenneth Johnson, hematologist/oncologist at Sharp Chula Vista’s Douglas & Nancy Barnhart Cancer Center.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 90 percent of cancers formed in the testes develop in the germ cells. The two main types of germ cell tumors are seminoma and non-seminoma.

“The incidence of seminoma and non-seminoma cancer cases in men is roughly the same,” says Dr. Johnson. “The treatment for each type of testicular cancer is different, illustrating the importance of obtaining an accurate diagnosis.”

It’s important to identify which type of testicular cancer you’re currently facing, as well as remain diligent with testicular self-exams and health screenings. It’s good to be cognizant of risk factors associated with testicular cancer as well.

Risk factors of testicular cancer include:

  • Cryptorchidism, or an undescended testicle
  • Genetics or family history
  • HIV infection
  • Race and ethnicity

Treatment for testicular cancer
Treatment options include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, or some combination of these options.

In collaboration with a radiation oncologist, urologist, fertility specialist and medical oncologist, an individualized treatment plan would be developed with the intent of maximizing the opportunity to cure the disease and preserve fertility.

“Testicular cancer can affect males at any stage of life. It is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in males between the ages of 15 and 35,” explains Dr. Johnson. “Because of this, it’s vital for patients to be active participants in their health by knowing the risk factors and undergoing regular exams, as early detection can greatly improve survival outcomes.”

For the news media: To talk with Dr. Johnson for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at erica.carlson@sharp.com.

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