If you are a man, you have a pair of egg-shaped glands, called testicles, enclosed in your scrotum,
which is a pouch that hangs behind your penis.
Your testicles produce sperm cells, and make the hormone testosterone.
Inside each testicle are coiled tubes called seminiferous tubules,
where your body creates immature sperm cells also known as germ cells, or spermatogonia.
Through a series of stages, called spermatogenesis, spermatogonia develop into mature sperm.
Testicular cancer is a disease of abnormal cell growth in one or both of your testicles.
It usually begins in your germ cells where genetic damage or changes, called mutations, cause the cells to grow uncontrollably.
The cancerous germ cells clump together to form a tumor, which continues to grow.
In most cases, these mutations occur in your germ cells and are called germ cell tumors.
Doctors classify germ cell tumors as nonseminoma or seminoma or based on the appearance of the cells under a microscope.
Nonseminomatous tumors are usually more aggressive. They grow and spread quickly, while seminomatous tumors tend to progress at a slower rate.
Symptoms of testicular cancer may include a painless mass on your testicle, or testicular pain or swelling.
If you have testicular cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery,
chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of treatments based on the type and stage of the tumor.
Your treatment will begin with removal of the cancerous testicle through a radical inguinal orchiectomy.
For this procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in your lower abdomen.
Then, your surgeon will remove your testicle from your scrotum.
Your surgeon will close the incision with sutures or surgical staples.
Next, your pathologist will analyze the testicle to determine which type of cancer you have and to plan further treatment.
If you have enlarged abdominal lymph nodes,
or if samples of your blood indicate the presence of cancer following your orchiectomy surgery, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop cancer from progressing by killing the cancer cells
that may have spread through your lymph nodes to other parts of your body.
If your tumor contains the more aggressive nonseminoma cells,
your surgeon may perform a retroperitoneal lymph node dissection after your receive chemotherapy.
During this procedure, your surgeon will insert laparoscopic tools through small incisions in your abdomen.
Then, your surgeon will remove your abdominal lymph nodes, including any cancer cells that may have spread to them.
If you have a seminomatous tumor, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy, or radiotherapy,
which uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells only in the treatment area.
During this procedure, your doctor will direct external beam radiation therapy at your retroperitoneal abdominal lymph nodes.
The radiation beam will kill any cancer cells that may have spread there.