Books

Issues

Resources

Free Reminder

Contact Us

Testicles Newsbytes

Testicular Cancer Awareness Week (tcaw.org) has compiled newsbytes on testicles and testicular cancer.

Newsbytes

No Longer a Secret

Newsbytes


Study Sees Link Between Marijuana Use, Testicular Cancer


Researchers say that young men who smoke marijuana weekly, or who have smoked from their teen years on, face twice the risk of developing nonseminona, an aggressive form of testicular cancer, the Guardian reported Feb. 9.

Researchers said the elevated risk compared to nonusers may be due to stimulation of immature testicular cells that can later become tumors. The testicles are one of the few organs in the body that have receptor sites for cannabinoids, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Increases in the number of testicular-cancer rates since the 1950s could be due to higher rates of marijuana use during the same time period, experts said.

Current marijuana users had an overall 70-percent increased risk of testicular cancer compared to nonusers.

"Our study is not the first to suggest that some aspect of a man's lifestyle or environment is a risk factor for testicular cancer, but it is the first that has looked at marijuana use," said researcher Stephen Schwartz.

The study from researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center was published online in the journal Cancer.
Source: www.jointogether.org/news/research/summaries/2009/link-between-marijuana.html

Testicular Cancer and Infertility Linked?


A study shows higher odds of testicular cancer in infertile men. Get the details from this new research. "Infertile men with abnormal semen analyses have a 20-fold greater incidence of testicular cancer compared to the general population," researchers write in The Journal of Urology.
Source: www.webmd.com/content/article/115/111772.htm

One-Shot Treatment Can Cure Testicular Cancer: Similar Cure Rate With Single Chemotherapy Treatment That Prevents Recurrence


Cancer researchers report a single dose of chemotherapy might work just as well as radiation treatment in curing testicular cancer.

Currently, most men with early-stage disease undergo surgery to remove the affected testicle, then have follow-up radiation therapy to make sure the cancer is "cured." Using a combination of surgery, radation, and chemotherapy, this cancer has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers.

But radiation therapy, which requires several weeks of treatment, can cause cancer to occur in other organs two decades or more after the original cancer is treated, says R. Timothy Oliver, MD, professor of oncology at Barts and the London Queen Mary's School of Medicine.

Moreover, radiation therapy can damage the remaining testicle, thus destroying fertility.

Testicular cancer accounts for only about 1% of all cancers in men -- usually young men, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Oliver presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

A better option, he says, is a single shot of Paraplatin, a potent chemotherapy drug. Oliver tells WebMD this single-shot treatment is as effective as radiation for preventing recurrence of seminoma, which is a common type of testicular cancer.

Oliver tested this approach in 1,447 men who received either radiation treatment or the one-shot chemotherapy treatment. During the study from June 1996 to March 2001, 543 men had the one shot therapy while 904 men had radiation therapy.

"After three years, there was no significant difference in relapse-free survival," he says. The disease-free survival in the Paraplatin group was just over 95% and it was 97% in men treated with radiation.

And in terms of actual recurrences of cancer, new cancers were later detected in 10 men treated with radiation, while only two men in the chemotherapy group had recurrent cancers.

Oliver says the one-shot treatment is also less toxic then radiation. And most men reported less fatigue and nausea, which meant they were able to return to work sooner than men treated with radiation.

Robert J. Mayer, MD, director of gastrointestinal oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, tells WebMD the study results are important because even though testicular cancer has a high cure rate with radiation therapy, "it's important that we select treatments that are the least toxic to our patients." He notes, however, that long-term data are needed to confirm Oliver's finding that one-shot treatment is as good or better than radiation.

If the positive results of this study stand the test of time -- if results at 10 or 20 years are as promising as these early results -- Oliver says it may be possible to treat testicular cancer by removing just the cancerous tissue, rather than the entire testicle. That would mean that "for the first time, men may have the option of testicular-conserving therapy just as women undergo lumpectomy to save their breasts."
Source: By Peggy Peck American Society of Clinical Oncology 2004m Abstract 4517: "A randomised comparison of single agent carboplatin with radiotherapy in the adjuvant treatment of stage I seminoma of the testis, following orchidectomy." R. Timothy Oliver, MD. Robert Mayer MD.

What Are the Key Statistics for Testicular Cancer?


The American Cancer Society estimates that in the year 2004 about 8,980 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. An estimated 360 men will die of testicular cancer in the year 2004.

Testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms of cancer. Studies show that the cure rate exceeds 90% in all stages combined. The 5-year survival rate for stage I testicular cancer is 99%. The 5-year survival rate for stage II disease, in which cancer has spread to local lymph nodes, is 95%. If the cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes (stage III), the 5-year survival rate is around 75%.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Five-year rates are used to produce a standard way of discussing prognosis. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years. Five-year relative survival rates exclude patients dying of other diseases. This means that anyone who died of another cause, such as heart disease, is not counted.

Keep in mind that 5-year survival rates are based on patients diagnosed and initially treated more than 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment often result in a more favorable outlook for recently diagnosed patients.
Source: www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_1X_What_are_the_key_statistics_for_testicular_cancer_41.asp?sitearea=

What's New in Testicular Cancer Research and Treatment?


Important research into testicular cancer is underway in many university hospitals, medical centers, and other institutions around the country. Each year, scientists find out more about what causes the disease, how to prevent it, and how to improve treatment.

Scientists are studying the changes in DNA of testicular cancer cells to learn more about the causes of this disease. Their hope is that improved understanding will lead to even more effective treatment.

Clinical trials have refined doctors’ approaches to treating these cancers and are expected to answer additional questions. For example, studies have identified factors to help predict which patients have a particularly good prognosis and may not need lymph node surgery or radiation therapy. On the other hand, studies have found unfavorable prognostic factors that suggest certain patients may benefit from more intensive treatment.

New drugs and new drug combinations are being tested for patients with recurrent cancer. Stem cell transplantation is being studied as a strategy for helping men who have tumors with a poor prognosis tolerate more intensive chemotherapy. And chemotherapy combinations are being refined to see if eliminating certain drugs, replacing them with others, or lowering doses can reduce side effects for some men without reducing the effectiveness of treatment.

Recent studies have found that men who are HIV-positive have an increased risk of developing testicular cancer and that most of these men can be cured using standard treatment (orchiectomy, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy) and can experience an improved quality of life despite their HIV status.
Source: www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_6X_Whats_New_in_Testicular_Cancer_Research_and_Treatment_41.asp?sitearea=

NCI Familia Testicular Cancer Study Now Recruiting


Testicular cancer is the most common malignancy among young men ages 15 to 35, with approximately 8,980 cases diagnosed annually in the U.S. A few clear risk factors exist, including cryptorchidism (undescended testicle), a prior history of cancer in one testicle (the opposite testicle is at increased risk), and other rare conditions where the testes develop abnormally. Among those men diagnosed with testicular cancer, about 1-3 percent report a family history of the disease. Brothers of affected individual are 8 to 10 times more likely to develop testicular cancer, and men whose fathers had testicular cancer are four times more likely to develop testicular cancer, when compared with the relatives of men who have never had testicular cancer. While some genetic clues are starting to emerge, the gene(s) that cause testicular cancer have yet to be discovered.

Clinical researchers from 14 different countries have banded together in an effort to find the gene(s) involved in causing familial testicular cancer. They have formed an organization called the International Testicular Cancer Linkage Consortium (ITCLC), and pooled the information collected from the families they each identified, to do a systematic search for these genes. In 2000, these investigators published evidence that a familial testicular cancer gene might be located on the X-chromosome, and they proposed that this might explain the higher risks in some families, especially those families in which at least one of the affected men had bilateral testicular cancer (EA Rapley et al: Nature Genetics 2000; 24:197-200). This candidate gene has been named the Testicular Germ Cell Tumor-1 (TGCT1) gene, and efforts to further refine the chromosomal location and determine the DNA structure of the gene are now underway. The gene itself has not yet been identified.

Studying high-risk families is the major way of identifying genes that cause diseases, and this strategy provides unique opportunities to examine other risk factors as well. Under the leadership of Mark H. Greene, M.D., the Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB) at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD has recently begun to actively recruit new families. Criteria for enrollment into the study include at least one of the following: 1) two or more men in the family have testicular cancer, 2) one family member has bilateral testicular cancer (that is, separate cancers involving both testicles), or 3) one family member with testicular cancer is a member of a set of genetically identical brothers, such as twins or triplets. Since multiple-case testicular cancer families are relatively rare, Dr. Greene and his colleagues have been contacting both physicians and testicular cancer support/advocacy organizations, in an effort to identify additional families.

As part of its research strategy, the NCI study team has joined the International Testicular Cancer Linkage Consortium. The Clinical Genetics Branch is contributing genetic material (DNA) collected from the new families it has identified to this international research effort. The goal is to assemble a large enough group of high-risk families to permit locating the proposed gene on the X chromosome, and perhaps finding other genes as well. Eventually, it is hoped that this research will lead to the development of laboratory tests to identify individuals who are at increased genetic risk of testicular cancer.

The CGB team also hopes to make significant contributions to understanding the full spectrum of the hereditary testicular cancer syndrome. In addition to helping identify the gene or genes that cause familial testicular cancer, they hope to better describe its clinical features, explore whether these families are at a higher risk of other cancers, perform the first systematic review of the pathology of familial testicular cancers, examine the emotional and psychosocial issues affecting family members, develop better health care choices for at risk individuals, and create a repository of biological specimens to be used in various laboratory studies intended to help us learn more about how testicular cancer develops.

Families may participate either by providing questionnaire information and blood samples from their home communities, or they may travel to the NIH Clinical Center for an in-person evaluation. Expenses related to coming to the NIH, and the costs involved in participating in the study, are covered by the study's budget. More information on the study can be found online at: http://familial-testicular-cancer.cancer.gov
Source: www.tc-cancer.com/familial.html

Testicular cancer risk set early in life


The risk of testicular cancer is established in large part by environmental exposures early in life, results of a new study suggest, although the researchers admit that at this point they aren't exactly sure what type of exposures increase the risk.

For at least 50 years, there has been an "unexplained" epidemic of testicular cancer in several populations, although there is a marked difference in the occurrence of the disease among countries, Dr. Anders Ekbom, of the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, and associates explain in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

For example, the incidence of testicular cancer is roughly twice as high in Sweden as it is in Finland and Denmark. "These differences cannot be explained solely by genetic differences, but environmental exposures, particularly early exposures, have been implicated in the [development] of testicular cancer," according to the team.

To investigate further, Ekbom's group identified 93,172 Finnish men who immigrated to Sweden between 1969 and 1996. These immigrants were less likely to develop testicular cancer than the Swedish general population.

There was no link between age at immigration or duration of stay in Sweden and the reduced risk of testicular cancer.

"The findings are compatible with the hypothesis that lifetime risk of testicular cancer is determined early in life, possibly before birth," Ekbom and colleagues write.

"Although we are still without a good hypothesis regarding what exposures are associated with an increased incidence of testicular cancer, our results strongly implicate early exposures as major determinants," they say.

Source:  quiz.ivillage.com/health/tests/menshealth.htm  

Testicular Cancer Cure Rates Now So High Patients May Be More At Risk From Treatment


The treatment of testicular cancer has become so successful and relapse rates are now so low that doctors face a problem unheard of 20 years ago - patients are living long enough to suffer long term side effects that are potentially life-threatening and decrease the survivors' quality of life.
Source: European Society for Medical Oncology, www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/333/8012/346356.html

Ignoring Testicular Lumps Can Cause Unnecessary Deaths - Get Medical Help Early


Some young men put their lives at risk by hiding large testicular lumps, said researchers in The Lancet (Vol. 359:1632, 1666).

Testicular cancer that has spread to other parts of the body has a high rate of cure (more than 80%). And even those who have a type of high-risk disease can be easily cured if caught early. In a case reported by H. D. de Boer, MD, and colleagues at the University Medical Centre in St. Radboud, the Netherlands, a 17-year-old man died in a car accident, and it was later discovered that he had testicular cancer.

His medical history showed no abnormalities, and except for complaints of abdominal pain after the accident, he had been without any symptoms, de Boer said.

Overlooked Tumor Found

In trying to learn of the cause of the young man's death, doctors found a large tumor of the right testicle. His cancer had spread to the liver, bone, and other areas of the body, De Boer said. They found that a blood clot that reached his lungs caused his death. The authors believed the delay in diagnosis may have been due to the patient's lack of knowledge, embarrassment, ignorance, or fear of cancer. "This tragic case reminds us…early recognition of testicular carcinoma is essential," said the authors.

It has been shown that treatment delay of more than three months, de Boer said, is linked to shorter survival rates. The lump had probably been noticeable for months, according to Jeremy P.C. Steele and R. Timothy Oliver, medical oncologists at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, who commented on the case in the same journal.

Self-Exam and Proper Medical Exam Vital

Such cases are not exceptional, they said. In their experience they treat about 50 new patients with testicular cancer each year, and four of these have huge testicular masses that have been hidden for months. They said that no single reason is given, but some patients admit to being afraid of seeing doctors, and in some, the family doctor said nothing was wrong. Steele and Oliver said doctors should teach men to check for testicular lumps, and when spotted, know that they are a medical emergency.

The Dutch authors agreed: "It is important to encourage testicular self-examination and to emphasize the need for prompt medical advice in the event of change in a previously normal testicle."
Source: American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/eprise/main/docroot/NWS/content/NWS_3_1x_Ignoring_Testicular_Lumps_Can_Cause_Unnecessary_Deaths

New Testicular Cancer Warning


The latest issue of the Lancet features the case of a 17-year-old who died four days after a road accident in which he had sustained only minor injuries. He was killed by a blood clot in the lung, which a post-mortem found was not linked to the accident, but to a testicular tumour which had probably been present for months. Another example of the importance of men reporting any worrying lumps to their GP.
Source: BBC News Online

Doctors Say Fewer Men Dying of Testicular Cancer


Early diagnosis and more effective treatments mean that deaths from testicular cancer are decreasing worldwide, despite a rise in the number of new cases of the illness, researchers reported on Friday.

Their study, published in The Lancet medical journal, showed that chemotherapy treatment could help to reduce death rates for the most common cancer among men aged 25 to 29.

"Testicular cancer is a classic example of cancer that is generally curable when the right treatment is given," said Professor Peter Boyle of Britain's Imperial Cancer Research Fund, a co-author of the report.

"In spite of the number of cases increasing, deaths from testicular cancer have been declining in North America and Western Europe since the late 70s," he added.

Death rates from the disease in men younger than 45 fell by about a third in the late 1980s compared to the 1970s.

Cases of testicular cancer, which affects one in 600 men, had been increasing since the 1930s. Denmark, Switzerland and Norway have the highest rates in the world.

After peaking in the United States in the 1960s, deaths from the illness have dropped by over 70%. In most of Europe deaths have declined by 67% since the 1970s. But in Eastern European nations the decline is only 22%--behind the United States, Japan and most of the rest of Europe.

"We must find out why testicular cancer death rates are so different in central and Eastern Europe," Boyle said, "otherwise there will continue to be several hundred preventable deaths occurring every year."

The researchers said their results indicate widespread inconsistencies in adequate treatments in central and Eastern Europe. If money is the problem, they suggested that urgent measures are needed to ensure that the best treatment is available to everyone.

Testicular cancer is curable in 90% of cases if it is caught and treated early. Symptoms include a lump or sore on the testicle, pain or soreness, a persistent cough, blood in the urine and stomach and bowel problems.

Scientists suspect exposure to high levels of the female hormone oestrogen in the womb could be part of the reason for the increase in the disease.

Familial testicular cancers account for an estimated 20% of cases.

There are also more cases among first-born sons and non-identical twins.

Source: news.excite.com/printstory/news/r/010608/17/health-cancer

 

Risk Of Testicular Cancer Determined By Early Environmental Exposures


A new study has found that Finnish men who immigrated to Sweden have a risk of testicular cancer that is comparible with that of men in Finland, suggesting that risk of testicular cancer is determined by environmental exposures early in life.
Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtPrint/EMIHC268/333/22002/368399.html?d=dmtICNNews&hide=t&k=basePrint

Why is the rate of testicular cancer increasing?


Trends are valuated in the incidence of testicular germ cell cancer in Ontario over the last 30 years.1 They report that the rate has increased about 60% overall, consistent with a 2% annual increase, and that the increase has been greatest in the youngest group (age 15 to 29).

Their finding is not surprising. Over the last couple of years the media have publicized an increase in the incidence of testicular cancer and a decline in the average sperm count. An increased incidence of testicular cancer has been reported worldwide; in northern Europe the incidence has increased by 3 to 4 times. This epidemiologic evidence has been accompanied by provocative reports of a reduction in testicular size and spermatogenesis rate in several countries.

It is a reasonable hypothesis that toxins acting during the early fetal development of the gonads are involved in the reduction in testicular size and spermatogenesis rate and the increase in the incidence of testicular germ cell cancer.

It is possible that some tumours are removed before they are rejected immunologically or undergo involution and disappear. Currently, however, almost all patients diagnosed with localized testis cancer present with a palpable testicular mass. These masses, if left untreated, progress rapidly. Thus, the impact of overdiagnosis is at best minor and insufficient to explain the sustained worldwide increase in incidence.

Also, several reports have suggested a relation between testicular germ cell cancer and a sedentary lifestyle (i.e., increased testicular temperatures), focusing on the role of heat as a toxic insult. More research is needed to answer these question.

Source: For the complete report by Laurence H. Klotz, MD , Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, and the Toronto ­ Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ont. go to http://www.cma.ca/cmaj/vol-160/issue-2/0213.htm  

Testicular Cancer Cases Outpace Breast Cancer in Califiornia


According to the California Cancer Registry, and the American Cancer Societies Cancer Facts and Figures 2000, there were 411 new cases of breast cancer in women 0-34 and 461 new cases of testis in men. Testicular cancer is usually more serious because it is at a more advanced stage when young men finally get it checked. Yet a recorded message while waiting to speak to someone at the American Cancer Society suggest women 20 and over have a mammogram every three years. No comment about young men and their greater risk of dying of testicular cancer. Also, the ACS provides a free self-exam card to hang on your shower nosel regarding a breast cancer self-exam (which older, over-weight men should consider getting), and they used to have one for young men on a testies self-exam, but no longer provide it. We have produced and provide such a card for young men and would be interested, if we could get funding, to produce one and make it available to college dorms, housing units and social organizations. Let us know if you know of someone who would be interested in helping us with this project.

Testicular Cancer on the Rise and Getting Younger


According to the American Cancer Society, around 8,980 young men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer and around 360 young men will die in the US alone this year. The risk of the cancer is 5 to 10 times higher in men with a history of undescended testes (cryptorchidism), a condition where the testes remain in the abdomen at birth. Whites are also four times as likely as African Americans to develop the cancer. It also appears as if men's age at diagnosis of the cancer is getting younger. Most cases are between 12-50.

(Editor:  We want to STOP right now and say if you are a male, or have a brother, or a son who is between 12-50, learn the SIMPLE self examine you can do in private in the shower. 360 men will die this year primarily because they ignored the symptoms or didn't cfind it in time. Click here to read each side Side 1 and Side 2 RIGHT NOW and learn what to do! If you want to purchase this waterproof guide to hang on your shower nozzle to remind you to check once-a-month, Click here and we will remind you, free of charge.)

Studies have suggested that prenatal exposure to hormones may increase cancer risk. Twin pregnancies, obesity and other conditions that increase estrogen levels in pregnancy are associated with a higher risk of testicular cancer. The increased use of fertility-promoting hormones may be linked in some way to the increase, also. Some studies have found a weak relationship between testicular cancer and inguinal hernia, low birth weight, early birth order, and a sedentary lifestyle. However, Scott Hamilton (the ice skater) was a victim of testicular cancer.

More study is needed to uncover the causes of testicular cancer, but less than $100,000 was budgeted for such research in the year 2000. So, let's each do are part to protect ourselves and those we love from being a statistic.

Infertile men at greater risk of testicular cancer


Men in couples with fertility problems are more likely to develop testicular cancer than other men. A study of over 32,000 Danish men has found that these men are 1.6 times more likely to develop this cancer, suggesting that both conditions have a common cause. One popular theory is that key testicular cells are damaged while males are still in their mother’s womb by environmental pollutants that increase their exposure to oestrogen. On the positive side, testicular cancer is still a relatively rare condition – on average, a man has just a one in 450 chance of developing it – and can almost always be effectively treated if caught early. Nevertheless, men with fertility problems should make sure they examine their testicles regularly for lumps and swellings.

No Longer a Secret


Many young pro sports idols have contracted TC, some with terminal diagnosis, and survived. This speaks to a generation that can get through the "taboo" of talking about it, and start reversing the trend. Scott Hamilton (pro ice skater) received the most publicity, Brian Piccolo (pro-football), Marlin's Mike Lowell (baseball), Trevor Dodds (Golf), Clarence Rose (PGA golfer's 18 month old son), Jim Howley (Tri-athlete), and MTV funnyman Tom Green.

Scott Hamilton and Testicular Cancer


Scott Hamilton, 39 year old world famous ice skater, talked about his bout with testicular cancer on Dateline NBC. He has overcome the cancer, but it has been tough. And what we know from all cancer's is that you have a better chance to beat it the sooner you learn about it. So, how come we don't tell young men most impacted by it, those 15 to 40, of how to detect it? I don't know of any program in any high school that teaches boys how to test for it (set an anchor for the two sided shower hanger). Chico State University student health department were misdiagnosing it up to three years ago. Lewis & Clark College in Portland, had a hanger in ever shower informing everyone how to test for breast cancer. Not one shower that we could find the same thing for men on testicular cancer. And, the American Cancer Society provides these water proof cards free of charge.

While it only kills around 360 young men a year, these brothers, sons, boyfriends, and friends probably would not have died if anyone had the guts to teach them how to test for it. It should be in every gym program. Its diagnosis should be taught in all school health programs. And, young men who were born with an undescended testicle should be informed, from the start, that they are at greater risk.

It is among the easiest to cure when detected early. However, in early stages testicular cancer may be symptomless. When symptoms do occur they include: Lump about the size of a pea on one of the testicles, epididymis or vas, enlargement of a testicle, heavy sensation in groin area or testicles, dull ache in abdomen area. If you find a lump or have any of the above symptoms, see your doctor immediately for an accurate diagnosis.

A once-a-month simple self-examination can help catch this cancer at its early stage. The most convenient time to examine yourself is while taking a shower or bath. The warm water causes the skin to relax, making the examination of the underlying tissue easier. First: Examine your testicles. Slowly roll each testicle between the thumb and fingers. Try to find any hard, non sensitive lumps. Second: Examine the epididymis for lumps. This crescent-shaped cord is behind each testicle. This area is tender so do not be alarmed. Third: Examine the VAS (the sperm-carrying tube which extends from the epididymis) of each testicle.

As a parent, provide this information to a son in this age group. Also, talk to your high-school and college about providing this information in gym class or anywhere else where all male students will get the information in a positive, serious manner. Tell them about this website and let them know that they can get water proof informational cards from us for use in your shower or download it directly from this website. No boy should die from this cancer. The only ones who die from this cancer are the ones who didn't know they should do a monthly check, or knew and didn't do it. It's a shame to loose anyone to this disease. But who will tell them how to protect themselves?

Cancer, Vasectomy Connection Disproved


Undergoing a vasectomy does not increase a man's risk of contracting prostate cancer, a study forom New Zealand finds. Though some previous studies have produced mixed findings about a link between vasectomy and prostate cancer victims, researchers at the University of Otago-Dunedin say their two-year study of 923 prostate cancer victims and 1,224 "control" subjects showed no connection. "Our results are consistent with several recent studies that have not found a significant association between vasectomy and prostate cancer," says the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Vasectomy and Cancer Risk


Some studies have raised questions about a possible relationship between vasectomy (an operation to cut or tie off the two tubes that carry sperm out of the testicles) and the risk of developing cancer, particularly prostate and testicular cancer. Such a relationship, if proven, would be of importance because about 1 in 6 men over age 35 in the United States has had a vasectomy.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is much less common than prostate cancer, accounting for only 1 percent of cancers in American men. This type of cancer is most often found in men ages 15 to 35. A few studies have suggested a link between vasectomy and an increased risk of testicular cancer, but it is possible that the increase in cases of testicular cancer seen in these studies may be due to factors other than vasectomy. It is also possible that the vasectomy procedure increases the rate at which an existing, but undetected, testicular cancer will progress. At this time, it is believed that there is either no association or a weak association between vasectomy and testicular cancer, but more research is needed before definitive conclusions can be made.

Men concerned about testicular cancer should talk to their doctor about the symptoms to watch for and an appropriate schedule for checkups.

References

This fact sheet was reviewed on 2/04/02

Doctors Say Fewer Men Dying of Testicular Cancer


Early diagnosis and more effective treatments mean that deaths from testicular cancer are decreasing worldwide, despite a rise in the number of new cases of the illness, researchers reported on Friday.

Their study, published in The Lancet medical journal, showed that chemotherapy treatment could help to reduce death rates for the most common cancer among men aged 25 to 29.

"Testicular cancer is a classic example of cancer that is generally curable when the right treatment is given," said Professor Peter Boyle of Britain's Imperial Cancer Research Fund, a co-author of the report.

"In spite of the number of cases increasing, deaths from testicular cancer have been declining in North America and Western Europe since the late 70s," he added.

Death rates from the disease in men younger than 45 fell by about a third in the late 1980s compared to the 1970s.

Cases of testicular cancer, which affects one in 500 men, had been increasing since the 1930s. Denmark, Switzerland and Norway have the highest rates in the world.

After peaking in the United States in the 1960s, deaths from the illness have dropped by over 70%. In most of Europe deaths have declined by 67% since the 1970s. But in Eastern European nations the decline is only 22%--behind the United States, Japan and most of the rest of Europe.

"We must find out why testicular cancer death rates are so different in central and Eastern Europe," Boyle said, "otherwise there will continue to be several hundred preventable deaths occurring every year."

The researchers said their results indicate widespread inconsistencies in adequate treatments in central and Eastern Europe. If money is the problem, they suggested that urgent measures are needed to ensure that the best treatment is available to everyone.

Testicular cancer is curable in 90% of cases if it is caught and treated early. Symptoms include a lump or sore on the testicle, pain or soreness, a persistent cough, blood in the urine and stomach and bowel problems.

Scientists suspect exposure to high levels of the female hormone oestrogen in the womb could be part of the reason for the increase in the disease.

Familial testicular cancers account for an estimated 20% of cases.

There are also more cases among first-born sons and non-identical twins.

Source: news.excite.com/printstory/news/r/010608/17/health-cancer

The Young Man's Cancer


If you think you don't have to worry about cancer until after your fiftieth birthday, consider this fact: The risk of getting testicular cancer is highest between the ages of 15 and 35.

Testicular cancer is a relatively uncommon disease, with an estimated 7,600 cases every year. Yet, it is the most common form of cancer among men between the ages of 15 and 40 and its incidence has increased sharply over the past three decades. Fortunately, testicular cancer is one of the most treatable cancers when it's caught early -- and that's simple to do because the testes are easily accessible for external examination. But don't wait until you see your doctor. You can prevent this cancer from spreading to other organs and becoming deadly by performing regular self-examinations.

What is Testicular Cancer?

The testicles are two egg-shaped glands suspended below the penis in the scrotum. After puberty, the testes produce the male hormone testosterone, which is responsible for many male characteristics, such as body hair and deepening of the voice. The testes also produce the sperm that fertilizes a woman's egg during reproduction.

Testicular cancer is the growth of a malignant (cancerous) tumor that originates in the testes. About 95 percent of masses in the testes are malignant, and if untreated, will grow and spread to other organs. Early detection is key to curing this disease.

Who's at Risk?

While any man can develop testicular cancer, especially between the ages of 15 and 40, certain factors make men more vulnerable. These include:

An undescended testicle (cryptochordism). If you have or have had an undescended testicle your risk of developing testicular cancer increases by three to 14 percent. This is particularly true if the testicle descended after age six or never descended at all.

A testicle that has atrophied (wasted away or shrunk) as a result of the mumps or a viral infection.

Family history. If you have a brother, or other family member who has had testicular cancer, you may have an increased risk for the disease.

Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) may be a risk factor for testicular cancer. From 1946 through the 1970's, DES was used to treat pregnant women who had a high risk for miscarriage. Studies have already established a link between DES and vaginal cancer in the daughters of women who took DES during pregnancy. Studies are under way to see if such a link exists in sons as well (for more information, call the DES Cancer Network at 800-337-6384).

Early Detection

Your physician should include an examination of your testes during every routine medical examination. But since that probably occurs only once a year, you can improve your chance of detecting a problem as early as possible by performing a testicular self-examination (TSE) every month.

Testicular Self-Exam (TSE). Performing this simple, 3-minute self-examination once a month, will help you detect testicular cancer. The best time to check yourself is in the shower because fingers glide over soapy skin, and it's easier to concentrate on the texture underneath. After a warm bath is also good because the heat causes the skin to relax, making the exam easier.

As you perform these monthly self-exams, you will learn what is normal for you. That way you will be better able to detect any of the following symptoms:

If you find anything out of the ordinary, contact your doctor promptly because about 95 percent of masses in the testes are malignant. Early detection and prompt treatment is the best way to guarantee a cure.

1. Start by examining one of your testicles. Slowly roll it between your thumb and fingers, applying slight pressure and looking for hard, painless lumps.

2. Then examine your epididymis (the comma shaped cord behind each testicle). It may be tender to the touch, but it's the location of most non-cancerous problems.

3. Continue by examining the vas (the sperm-carrying tube that runs up from your epididymis), which normally feels like a firm, movable, smooth tube.

4. Repeat the same procedure on your other testicle.

Diagnosis

If the scrotum doesn't feel normal, your doctor will probably order an ultrasound exam, which uses sound waves to make a picture of the inside of your testes. A number of other examinations and tests may be needed to rule out or confirm cancer or to stage the disease (find out how far it has progressed). The following tests may be used for that purpose:

Blood and urine samples to measure the function of other organs. Also, a blood test for tumor markers (chemicals produced by testicular tumors and released into the blood stream) can help detect the disease and monitor tumor activity before, during, and after treatment.

Chest x-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans of the abdomen and chest (a CT scan is a painless procedure in which a beam moves around the body and forms a detailed picture on a computer screen that can show any developing abnormalities).

Once testicular cancer has been confirmed, the physician has to determine what kind of cancer it is in order to decide what treatment is best. The tumors that form testicular cancer are divided into two major groups:

1. Seminomas, or cancer that originates in the sperm cells, account for 40 percent of all testicular cancers. This type of tumor is generally very responsive to radiation.

2. Non-seminomatous tumors make up the remaining 60 percent of testicular cancers and include several varieties of tumors. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of testicular cancers involve more than one type of tumor. A metastatic tumor (one that has spread to other parts of the body) may be made up of cells different from the cells of the primary, or first, tumor.

The next step is to determine the stage of the cancer, or how far it has spread. There are three main stages of testicular cancer:

Stage I. Regardless of the size of the tumor, the cancer is limited to the testes and has not spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage II. The cancer has begun to affect the area of the abdomen that lies behind the stomach (peritoneum). It also includes cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes, but not to a distant organ.

Stage III. Cancer that has spread to one or more distant organs.

Treatment

The good news is that testicular cancer is among the most curable of cancers, especially when detected early. Since the majority of all testicular tumors are cancerous, the first treatment is usually radical orchiectomy, which involves the surgical removal of the affected testicle and all of the adjoining tubes.

If only one testicle is involved, radical orchiectomy will probably not affect sexual function. However, it is important to find a surgeon experienced in this particular type of surgery because if lymph glands at the back of the abdomen have to be removed, the surgeon must take special care to protect the nerves associated with ejaculation. Nerves damaged during surgery can cause infertility.

After surgery, adjuvant (or additional) therapy is often needed depending on the type of tumor and the stage of the cancer.

In general, the treatments most commonly used are:

Radiation therapy, which is usually highly effective against seminomas, may be used to eradicate the cancer or to shrink the size of tumors too large to operate.

Chemotherapy (the use of powerful anti-cancer drugs) is usually used when the tumor cannot be completely removed surgically (such as with microscopic disease), the disease has spread to other organs, or the cancer recurs. Since chemotherapy may damage testicular function and cause infertility, a man may want to consider the option of storing sperm in a sperm bank prior to treatment.

In cases where the cancer has spread to the abdomen, additional surgery may be needed to remove affected lymph nodes in the area.

Follow-up Care

If treatment is successful, the disease goes into complete remission (it is no longer present). But there is still a chance that the cancer will return, particularly during the first two years after therapy. About 10 percent of men treated for testicular cancer experience a relapse. Still, almost all of these cases can also be cured -- usually with chemotherapy -- when caught early enough. Physicians monitor patients for recurrences with regular physical exams, CT scans of the abdomen, chest x-rays, and blood tests to measure tumor marker levels.

Men who are dissatisfied with their appearance after surgery can have an artificial testicle implanted. These implants are filled with silicone gel and have the weight and feel of a normal testicle. However, though recent concerns about a connection between the leakage of silicone gel and the occurrence of rheumatic symptoms (joint aches and pains, fatigue, inflammation) have primarily been raised by women with ruptured or leaking breast implants, there have also been a few complaints from men with testicular implants.

Undescended Testicles

During fetal development, a male child's testicles develop in the abdomen. Before birth they normally descend into the scrotum (a pouch of skin underneath the penis that houses the testes). In a small number of boys, especially those who are born prematurely, one or both testicles fail to descend by the time of birth. In most of them, the testicles descend during the first nine months of life.

The cause of undescended testicles cannot be explained in most cases. But according the American Academy of Pediatrics, these factors may play a role:

There may not have been enough of certain hormones from the mother or the developing testicles to stimulate normal maturation.

The testes themselves may be abnormal in their response to the hormones.

There may be a physical blockage.

In some cases, there may be a link with hormonal medications taken by the mother (one reason pregnant women are advised to avoid them).

If a child has undescended testicles, his scrotum will be small and appear underdeveloped. If only one testicle has descended, the scrotum may look full on one side and empty on the other. If the testicles are sometimes in the scrotum and at other times absent (such as when he is cold or excited), they are said to be "retractile." This condition usually corrects itself with time.

A physician should carefully examine male infants during routine medical examinations to ensure that their testes have descended. If one or both testes are undescended by one to two years of age, treatment should be started.

Undescended testicles may be treated with hormone injections and/or surgery. The lower the testes, the more likely that the hormone injections will be successful. Usually, but not always, treatment with hormones is tried first. If that is unsuccessful, a surgery called orchiopexy can be performed. During this operation, the testes are brought down into the scrotum and attached to the walls so that they will not retract.

If testicles remain undescended for over two years, a boy will have a higher than average risk of being infertile (though perhaps not impotent) when he matures. He will also have an increased risk of developing testicular cancer, particularly if the testicle is left in its abnormal position. Fortunately, with early and proper treatment, all of these complications can usually be avoided.

For More Information: AHCPR offers a free copy of their Managing Cancer Pain. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, 800.358.9295. Health Pages. Publication: The Young Man's Cancer. 1998. (Online) www.thehealthpages.com/ar-testi.html

Young men think they are indestructible - a true story


I was 23 years old and invincible. Or so I thought. Then one day, playing softball in a suburb of Chicago, where I live, I got kicked in the groin by the nice guy playing shortstop. When I checked myself out in the shower later, I found what felt like a ball bearing inside my right testicle, as if one end were hardened.

So I did what most guys would do: I put it out of my mind. Or tried to. I couldn't believe it was anything serious. My wife and I had just married. We were closing on our first house. I was in the third month of a new job. Everything was going great.

Then I noticed the testicle was getting larger. Finally I made an appointment with my primary care physician -- and started what turned into a five-month battle.

The visit with my doctor took exactly 20 minutes. He set up an appointment with a urologist the next day who examined me, looked me in the eye and said, "You're a smart kid. I'm glad you came to see me."

When results from a blood test and an ultrasound came back, the urologist sat down with my wife and me and gave us the news: There was a 95% chance I had cancer. Getting kicked in the groin during the softball game hadn't caused the disease, of course; it had just prompted me to check things out in time to catch the tumor, which was already there. The testicle had to be removed right away, the urologist said. I couldn't believe my ears.

Just like that, I had become part of a trend: I had likely been stricken with a form of cancer that has, over the past three decades, increased in frequency an astonishing 60% (according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), striking mostly young men like me. The doctor probably told me that it was a very curable cancer, but I was in such a state of shock, I could barely understand what he was saying.

That next Monday -- just after moving into our new house -- I went in for surgery. I was home that afternoon, with a huge bandage on my crotch and a gigantic ice pack in my pants. The procedure, called an orchiectomy, involves removing the testicle through an incision in the groin. A week later the biopsy report came back: "Nonseminomatous mixed germ-cell tumor primarily consisting of embryonal carcinoma."

In other words: Cancer.

Luckily, the report said the cancer hadn't spread to my lymph nodes or bloodstream. Even so, I was faced with a tough decision. I could watch and wait to see if the cancer was truly cured. Or I could undergo what's called a retroperitoneal lymph node dissection, or RPLND. In short, a surgeon opens you up from below the navel to the middle of your chest, lifts your internal organs out of the way, and removes all the lymph nodes that could be cancerous if the tumor has spread.

The prospect terrified me. But so did the idea of doing nothing.

Surfing for Survival

I got on the Internet, looking for help and information. I found plenty of it, along with moral support. I also found out about Indiana University, known for its expertise in treating testicular cancer. I made an appointment, and a week later my wife and I hit the road.

I've since learned that testicular cancer is often misdiagnosed. The problem -- as I was about to learn firsthand -- is that because it's so rare, most doctors don't see it all that often. The ones back home had told me the cancer hadn't spread. But when the same slides were reviewed at Indiana University, the report indicated that, in fact, it had. I had learned one important lesson: Always get a second opinion. Always.

With this latest round of bad news, I decided to have the dreaded RPLND. I wanted to kill this beast while I had the upper hand.

At the age of 23, I never thought I'd have to make my peace with God. But on the morning of the surgery, I did. Saying goodbye to my wife before entering the operating room was hard enough. But one of the most difficult moments was when I saw my dad for the first time after surgery. He looked shaken, and as he took my hand, he asked in a low voice how I was doing. I gripped his hand as hard as I could and told him not to worry.

Feeling Like Burnt Toast

The six days I spent in the hospital were pretty tough. At first I needed help getting out of bed. By the third day, I was just beginning to feel better when my primary care doctor came to see how I was doing. He happened to mention in passing that my urologist had found one node that was positive for cancer. And then he left.

There I was, in the middle of a visit with my wife, when this guy walks in, drops a bomb, and then walks out. I was devastated.

My urologist laid out the situation the next day. There was a 70% to 80% chance that I was cured already. Two rounds of chemotherapy would raise those odds to 95%. I wanted the best odds I could get, but I'll admit it: I was really afraid of chemotherapy. Fear of the unknown, I guess.

The first couple of days on chemo were pretty easy. But by the end of the first week I felt horrible -- like burnt toast. The drugs had affected my hearing and made me feel like I was in a tunnel. The knuckles on my hands turned dark. My skin felt thickened. And I felt as if I had just smoked 100 cigars in a row -- my lungs hurt that badly. Then my hair started falling out.

In all, I did two rounds of chemotherapy, three weeks each. On Oct. 21, 1997, the treatments ended. I couldn't have been happier. Now it was time to get back to my life.

The Aftermath

In an odd way, I feel lucky. Testicular cancer is among the most treatable ones around. But even though 95% of patients with the condition beat it and survive at least five years, according to the American Cancer Society, that still leaves 5% who don't. Men do die of this disease. And most of them are young and in the prime of their lives.

If I had waited much longer, my story might have ended differently. One key to beating this disease is detecting it early. That's why I tell everyone: If you think something is wrong, don't wait. Go to your doctor. Another key is following up to make sure it doesn't come back.

Since the surgery I've struggled a bit to get my life back in order. Sometimes I feel a little bitter that I had to go through this. But mostly I know that this experience made me realize what a gift my life is. I have a loving wife, a wonderful family, great friends, and all kinds of opportunities. And my wife and I just got the best gift possible. Our first child, a girl, is due to be born this November. (Just so you know: We conceived her the old-fashioned way.) Believe me, I'm planning to be around a long, long time to enjoy being a dad.

Source: Like most young men, the writer thought he was indestructible. Then he was diagnosed with cancer and found himself in the battle of his life. By Erik Strand. Medically reviewed by Dr. Craig H. Kliger. Erik Strand is a mechanical engineer in Plainfield, Ill., where he still enjoys playing softball.

Fertility problems linked to testicular cancer risk


Men with fertility problems may be at increased risk for testicular cancer, according to results of a large study of Danish men.

While previous studies in Denmark have suggested there is a link between infertility and testicular cancer, those studies measured a man's fertility by the number of children he had. The new study looked at sperm quality and showed that men with abnormalities were two to three times more likely than other men to develop testicular cancer, researchers report in the September 30th issue of the British Medical Journal.

The incidence of testicular cancer has risen in Europe and the US in recent decades, and some evidence suggests semen quality has declined over the same time period.

Dr. Rune Jacobsen of the Danish National Research Foundation in Copenhagen and colleagues looked at sperm count, as well as the shape and movement of sperm, among more than 32,400 men who had semen samples taken between 1963 and 1995. Each man was part of a couple with fertility problems.

Overall, the men had a higher-than-average risk for testicular cancer. Among men with sperm abnormalities, the cancer risk was two to three times higher than average.

Poor sperm quality and testicular cancer may share an underlying cause, the authors suggest. Because testicular cancer strikes young men, experts have speculated that the risk of the disease begins early in life or even in the womb. For example, exposure to maternal hormones during pregnancy may trigger cell malformations that later show up in men as fertility problems and testicular cancer.

Despite this possible new risk factor for testicular cancer, it is important for men to keep the risk in perspective, according to Jacobsen's team. Only 89 of the more than 32,000 men developed testicular cancer, making a man's risk for the disease "very small," the researchers note.

Source: British Medical Journal 2000;321:789-792. www.healthanswers.com/Centers/Disease/NewsStory.asp?newsid=9247&id=testicular+cancer&parent=cancer

High-dose chemo battles recurrent testicular cancer


High-dose chemotherapy combined with a stem-cell transplant can boost survival in men who have had a relapse after being treated for testicular cancer, researchers report.

Most men with testicular cancer can be cured with the combination of surgery and chemotherapy. However, as many as 30% may require additional treatment, according to Dr. Lawrence H. Einhorn and associates from Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis.

In a 3-year study of 65 men suffering a cancer relapse, the men received high-dose chemotherapy followed by either a bone-marrow transplant or stem-cell transplant to replenish the immune system damaged by the chemotherapy, which can be extremely toxic.

More than 40% of patients had a complete response to the high-dose chemotherapy, the authors report, and another 20% had no evidence of tumor after additional surgery. Fifteen additional patients had a partial response.

Overall, nearly 60% of patients were continuously free of cancer after high-dose chemotherapy either alone or combined with other treatments, according to the report in the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Some of the side effects of the chemotherapy were fever, diarrhea, nausea, mouth sores or kidney toxicity, though none of the patients died from the treatment.

"This is a message of hope," Einhorn said in a statement issued by the journal. "For patients who are not cured with the initial chemotherapy, we can now tell them with confidence that there is more than a 50% chance they can still be cured with second-line therapy."

Source:: Journal of Clinical Oncology 2000;18:3346-3351. www.healthanswers.com/Centers/Disease/NewsStory.asp?newsid=9242&id=testicular+cancer&parent=cancer

New drugs may hold promise for testicular cancer undescended testicle


A type of drug known to immobilize sperm appears to effectively kill immature sperm cells in the testes, according to results of a study in mice. The experimental drugs, known as vanadocenes, may one day be used to treat testicular cancer, researchers report in the August issue of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

"Previous research with vanadocenes has shown them to be potent spermicides," according to Dr. Osmond J. D'Cruz of Parker Hughes Institute in St. Paul, Minnesota. "This finding caused researchers to consider their ability as an anti-testicular cancer agent."

The drugs are also known to kill many types of cancer cells in laboratory culture dishes, including testicular, mammary, ovary, lung, stomach, colon and skin cells.

In a new study, D'Cruz and colleague Fatih Uckun injected four different types of vanadocenes into the testes of mice daily for 28 days. The investigators found that the drugs caused a preferential loss of maturing sperm cells, mainly by inducing the cells to undergo a naturally occurring cell suicide program. Other cells did not appear to be harmed by the drugs.

The authors conclude that less toxic types of vanadocenes may be a potential alternative to chemotherapy drugs currently used to treat testicular cancer. However, much more study is needed to determine if the drugs are safe and effective for humans, and if the drugs are "likely to cause impaired fertility," they note.

"We still need to study the feasibility of whether or not this treatment can be used in humans," D'Cruz told Reuters Health.

In about 90% of cases, the first signs of testicular cancer are a painless or uncomfortable lump on a testicle, or testicular enlargement or swelling. Men with testicular cancer often report a sensation of heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen or scrotum, according to the American Cancer Society. An estimated 6,900 cases are expected to be diagnosed in the US this year.

Source:: Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 2000;166 by Keith Mulvihill www.healthanswers.com/Centers/Disease/NewsStory.asp?newsid=8298&id=testicular+cancer&parent=cancer

Testicular Cancer Likely to Be Cured, Even When It Recurs


Even though the treatment may be arduous, winning against testicular cancer is becoming more common, both among world-class athletes and the guy on the street.

Even if the unthinkable happens and testicular cancer returns for Brewer or Armstrong, there is still a better than 50% cure rate for recurrent disease, according to a paper published in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"For patients who come to me for the first time and require chemotherapy to treat their disease, I tell them that there will be certain problems associated with their therapy, but life will quickly go back to normal," Lawrence Einhorn, MD, tells WebMD. "But even for patients who relapse I can look them in the eye and say with a great deal of confidence even though you weren't cured the first time we still have over a 50% chance we'll cure you this time." Einhorn is Distinguished Professor in the department of medicine, Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis, and the study's senior author.

Einhorn and colleagues reviewed the records of more than 60 men treated for recurrent testicular cancer with therapy using high-dose chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation. "This approach is possible in testicular cancer because we can escalate the dosage of the drugs we use by five or six times the dosage normally given and see something significant," Einhorn says. "This is not possible with drugs used for other solid tumors, such as breast cancer."

But the high-dose chemotherapy kills many of the parent cells in the bone marrow, which are necessary to make both red and white blood cells. This requires that the bone marrow be repopulated with parent cells using a technique called bone marrow transplantation.

"The technology surrounding bone marrow transplantation has greatly improved," says Einhorn. "We look at three things: death from treatment, which did not occur in this study; long-term toxicity such as ringing in the ears or tingling in the hands and feet, which also did not occur; and short-term toxicity. We can tell patients, who are for the most part young men, 'Look, you're looking at a very tough six to eight weeks with a high probability of cure.'"

Although Einhorn is convinced that this treatment regimen offers the highest possibility of cure for men with recurrent testicular cancer, Bruce Roth, MD, is a little more cautious. Roth tells WebMD, "I don't think we can say yet that this is the standard regimen that ought to be followed when someone has recurrent testicular cancer. Even though bone marrow transplantation is much better than it used to be and we don't usually kill anybody anymore, it is still extremely difficult for the patient and is quite expensive. The burden of proof is on us to prove that it's better than standard therapy." Roth is professor of medicine and urologic oncology and section chief of solid tumors at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Both Roth and Einhorn call themselves quite optimistic about the outlook for men with testicular cancer. "How many solid tumors are there where you can say to the patient on day one, you have a 90% chance of cure?" says Roth. "With any other solid tumor we'd be thrilled to give those odds. One thing I think is necessary, however, is for men with the disease to be treated by someone who regularly deals with this tumor, not someone who sees one or two cases a year. It's really necessary to understand the disease process."

Einhorn agrees, saying, "I really do think that when you're dealing with a rare, curable disease there are subtle nuances in its treatment. Large, central academic medical centers with a great deal of experience offer advantages related to having an entire infrastructure in place to support treatment. This is why we're always going to do better."

Source: Greater Than 50% Cure Rate Reported in Recurrent Disease By Elizabeth Tracey, MS. Reviewed by Dr. Gary D. Vogin

Survival High with Early Treatment


Glenn Knies wasn't thinking the worst when he felt the abnormality in his groin area 11 years ago. It was probably a hernia, he guessed.

He had just finished working out. In the shower, he noticed his right testicle seemed enlarged.

"I thought I had strained something," says Knies, an insurance adjuster in Schwenksville, Pa. He was 23 and barely out of college at the time.

"I wasn't having any discomfort or symptoms to speak of," he says. "I was strong as ever, and there was nothing else to indicate a problem."

He mentioned the condition to his mother, a nurse, who urged him to see a urologist quickly. She suspected something more serious than a hernia was bothering her son.

His doctor determined the enlargement was cancer, and he removed Knies' right testicle, the standard first-line treatment for testicular tumors. Later, after tests showed that cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes deep within the abdomen where the testicles drain, doctors also removed the nodes.

But the lymph nodes were "clean," free of cancer, Knies says. It was the first sign that he probably was going to be OK, that his doctor likely had gotten all the cancer after removing the testicle. To make sure, a regimen of regular examinations followed--monthly at first, tapering off to annually after five years. Eleven years later, he still has a yearly exam but considers himself a cancer survivor.

Most Common Cancer in Young Men

Cancer of the testicles--egg-shaped sex glands in the scrotum that secrete male hormones and produce sperm--accounts for only about 1 percent of all cancers in men, according to the National Cancer Institute. About 7,000 Americans were expected to get the disease in 1995, with an estimated 325 deaths. Compared with prostate cancer, estimated to kill 40,400 of its 244,000 victims in 1995, testicular cancer is relatively rare. However, in men aged 15 to 34, it ranks as the most common cancer. For unknown reasons, the disease is about four times more common in white men than in black men.

Only 15 years ago, a diagnosis of testicular cancer was grim news. Ten times as many patients died then as now. But dramatic advances in therapeutic drugs in the last two decades, along with improved diagnostics and better tests to gauge the extent of the disease, have boosted survival rates remarkably. Now, testicular cancer often is completely curable, especially if found and treated early.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved several drugs to treat testicular cancer, including Ifex (ifosamide), Vepesid (etoposide), Velban (vinblastine sulfate), Blenoxane (bleomycin sulfate), and Platinol (cisplatin).

Many medical professionals regard Platinol as the "magic bullet" for treating certain forms of testicular cancer. FDA approved the platinum-based drug for use after surgery or radiation. Platinol almost always is used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs.

"[Platinum-based treatment] is truly the great success story for solid-tumor chemotherapy," says S. Bruce Malkowicz, M.D., co-director of urologic oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. These drugs have helped cut testicular cancer's death rate and bolster its cure rate, he says, adding that many patients "respond very nicely" to platinum-based drug treatments, which are effective even when cancer has spread beyond the testicle.

"That is not a death sentence," Malkowicz says. About 70 percent of men with advanced testicular cancer can be cured, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Detection and Diagnosis

Most testicular tumors are discovered by patients themselves--either by accident, as Knies did, or while performing a self-examination on each testicle. "The usual presentation is of an enlarged, painless lump," says Malkowicz. "Occasionally there can be pain." The lump typically is pea-sized, but sometimes it might be as big as a marble or even an egg.

Besides lumps, if a man notices any other abnormality--an enlarged testicle, a feeling of heaviness or sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum, a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin, or enlargement or tenderness of the breasts--he should discuss it with a physician right away. These symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer. But only a doctor can tell for sure, and it is critical to seek attention promptly.

Physicians have various methods to help diagnose testicular cancer. Often a physical exam can rule out disorders other than cancer. Imaging techniques can help indicate possible tumors. One such method is ultrasound, which creates a picture from echoes of high-frequency sound waves bounced off internal organs. Malkowicz calls this method "a painless, noninvasive way to check for a mass."

But the only positive way to identify a tumor is for a pathologist to examine a tissue sample under a microscope. Doctors obtain the tissue by removing the entire affected testicle through the groin, a procedure called inguinal orchiectomy. Surgeons do not cut through the scrotum or remove just a part of the testicle, because if cancer is present, a cut through the outer layer of the testicle may cause the disease to spread locally. Besides enabling diagnosis, testicle removal also can prevent further growth of the primary tumor.

Nearly all testicular tumors stem from germ cells, the special sperm-forming cells within the testicles. These tumors fall into one of two types, seminomas or nonseminomas. Other forms of testicular cancer, such as sarcomas or lymphomas, are extremely rare.

Seminomas account for about 40 percent of all testicular cancer and are made up of immature germ cells. Usually, seminomas are slow growing and tend to stay localized in the testicle for long periods. It was a seminoma that struck former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman John Kruk at age 33 in 1994. His right testicle was removed, and doctors say his prognosis is good.

Nonseminomas are a group of cancers that sometimes occur in combination, including choriocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, and yolk sac tumors. Nonseminomas arise from more mature, specialized germ cells and tend to be more aggressive than seminomas. According to the American Cancer Society, 60 to 70 percent of patients with nonseminomas have cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.

Cancer Stages

Physicians measure the extent of the disease by conducting tests that allow the doctor to categorize, or "stage," the disease. These staging tests include blood analyses, imaging techniques, and sometimes additional surgery. Staging allows the doctor to plan the most appropriate treatment for each patient.

There are three stages of testicular cancer:

Stage 1--Cancer confined to the testicle.

Stage 2--Disease spread to retroperitoneal lymph nodes, located in the rear of the body below the diaphragm, a muscular wall separating the chest cavity from the abdomen.

Stage 3--Cancer spread beyond the lymph nodes to remote sites in the body.

Through blood tests, doctors can check for tumor-associated markers, substances often present in abnormal amounts in cancer patients. Comparing levels of markers before and after surgical treatment helps doctors determine if cancer has spread beyond the testicles. Likewise, measuring marker levels before and after chemotherapy treatment can help show how well the chemotherapeutic drugs are working.

FDA has approved a test that checks blood levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) as a tumor-associated marker. Other tests, such as those that gauge levels of beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (bHCG) or lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), are widely used as tumor-associated markers, but FDA has insufficient data to approve these tests.

Imaging techniques provide doctors with pictures of internal organs, giving visual clues to cancer staging. Chest x-rays can tell doctors if disease has spread to the lungs. Lymphangiography allows the lymph nodes to be visualized on an x-ray. CT scans create detailed views of cross sections of the body and can indicate possible tumors at various body sites.

Surgery to remove the retroperitoneal lymph nodes, into which the testicles drain, often is necessary for testicular cancer patients. Doctors examine lymph tissue microscopically to help determine the stage of the disease. Also, removing the tissue helps control further cancer spread.

Cancer Treatment

No one treatment works for all testicular cancers. Seminomas and nonseminomas differ in their tendency to spread, their patterns of spread, and response to radiation therapy. Thus, they often require different treatment strategies, which doctors choose based on the type of tumor and the stage of disease.

Because they are slow growing and tend to stay localized, seminomas generally are diagnosed in stage 1 or 2. Treatment might be a combination of testicle removal, radiation, or chemotherapy. But surgical removal of lymph nodes usually is not necessary for seminoma patients because this type of tumor is what the University of Pennsylvania's Malkowicz calls "exquisitely sensitive" to radiation. Normally directed to the retroperitoneal lymph nodes but sometimes to other lymph nodes, radiation can effectively remove cancer cells there. Stage 3 seminomas are usually treated with multidrug chemotherapy.

Though most nonseminomas are not diagnosed at an early stage, cases confined to the testicle may need no further treatment other than testicle removal. These men must have careful follow-up for at least two years because about 10 percent of stage 1 patients have recurrences, which then are treated with chemotherapy. Stage 2 nonseminoma patients who have had testicle and lymph node removal may also need no further therapy. Some doctors opt for a short course of multidrug chemotherapy for stage 2 patients to reduce the risk of recurrence. Most stage 3 nonseminomas can be cured with drug combinations.

Side Effects

Any kind of cancer treatment can cause undesirable side effects. But not all patients react the same way or to the same degree. One of the main concerns of young men is how treatment might affect their sexual or reproductive capabilities.

Removing one testicle does not impair fertility or sexual function. The remaining testicle can produce sperm and hormones adequate for reproduction. Removal of the retroperitoneal lymph nodes usually does not affect the ability to have erections or orgasms. It can, however, disrupt the nerve pathways that control ejaculation, causing infertility.

Modern "nerve-sparing" surgical techniques have increased the odds of retaining fertility. Many surgeons are abandoning a "total scorched-earth policy where you take out every single lymph node," Malkowicz says.

"We now can limit the amount of dissection necessary to get a good therapeutic cure, but not overdissect to disrupt every bit of nerves," he says, adding that "ejaculation can be preserved" in as many as 80 percent of cases.

Testicular cancer patient Knies points to his twin sons as proof that though his reproductive capacity was temporarily lost, it was restored.

Chemotherapy can cause increased risk of infection, nausea or vomiting, and hair loss. Not all patients experience these. Some drugs may cause infertility, but studies have shown that many men recover fertility two to three years after therapy ends. Radiation patients may experience fatigue or lowered blood counts. Infertility may also occur, but this usually is temporary.

Doctors emphasize that even though the cure rate is very high for all types and stages of testicular cancer, many of the drastic measures taken to cure later-stage disease can be avoided if the tumor is caught early enough. The best way to do this is through regular self-examination, a message that Knies says might be difficult to convey to the prime risk group.

"You have a real sense when you're in your late teens and early 20s of invincibility," he says. "The last thing you're thinking then is that something can stop you. But as I know, it can."

Source: John Henkel is a staff writer for FDA Consumer.

Male Fertility Problems Linked to Testicular Cancer


Like many professional couples, Tim and Elizabeth delayed childbearing until their late 20s. "We had a lot of trouble getting pregnant," says Elizabeth, who spoke to WebMD on condition that her full name not be used. "Our bathroom started looking like a chemistry lab with all the kits we had in there, and all the fun was certainly out of it."

After several months of trying, the Baltimore-area couple sought medical help -- and learned that Tim had a low sperm count. In spite of this, Elizabeth became pregnant a few months later and eventually delivered a healthy baby girl.

When couples have infertility problems, it is usually the woman who first seeks help, but her partner may be tested as well. He is asked to provide a sample of semen, which is examined for certain characteristics that may indicate problems. Although many couples in which the man has such semen abnormalities will go on to conceive a child, some may end up with something else to worry about: A study recently published in the British Medical Journal shows that men with these abnormalities run a higher risk of developing testicular cancer and some abdominal cancers than other men.

"We are certainly not suggesting that every man with a semen abnormality needs to be aggressively screened for testicular cancer," says Rune Jacobsen, MS, the study's author. "But we do feel that this study points to an association between the two conditions, suggesting a common cause," perhaps something that happened while the man was still in his mother's womb. Jacobsen is a researcher at the Centre for Research in Health and Social Statistics, Danish National Research Foundation in Copenhagen.

It's not clear what kind of prenatal event might cause these conditions. But the idea that things that happen during pregnancy may affect the baby's life later is not new. Research on maternal consumption of alcohol, drug use, and cigarette smoking clearly shows that they affect the baby's health. Now research is starting to show a connection between more subtle events during pregnancy and the offspring's ultimate health.

Christopher Coe, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, has been studying the effects of the intrauterine environment on offspring in rhesus monkeys. "We have been studying a 50-year-old colony of monkeys, encompassing five generations and more than 15,00 births, and have been examining systematically the effects of the mother's gestational experience on her offspring," he tells WebMD. "Such factors do indeed play a role in the size of the offspring, the age at which they reach puberty, their risk of pregnancy complications, and their ability to handle glucose [sugar]. All of these associations have also been suggested in humans.

"We're now starting to examine the effects of maternal nutrition and stress on the health of the offspring," Coe says. "We know the placenta isn't a perfect barrier, but the question remains, which factors are important and how long during pregnancy do they have a consequence? There appears to be some wisdom to our grandmothers' advice that, during pregnancy, a woman wants to be more careful and moderate her lifestyle."

The current study by Jacobsen and colleagues looked at the results of semen analysis in more than 30,000 Danish men, and correlated them with the development of various cancers. Men who had abnormal semen-analysis results were roughly twice as likely to develop testicular cancer. "We think this association may be due to a disruption in the mother's hormonal status during pregnancy," Jacobsen says. But researchers don't yet know what might cause such a disruption. "The next step is to study that association," Jacobsen says.

Right now, no one is suggesting that abnormal semen characteristics cause testicular cancer, since not all men with abnormal results will develop the disease, but Jacobsen does say that testicular cancer may be preceded by semen abnormalities.

"We see some interesting associations with semen abnormalities," Fady Sharara, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist with the Fertility and Reproductive Health Center in Arlington, Va. "or example, recently, a study reported such abnormalities in long distance truck drivers. My feeling is that such abnormalities arise from both a genetic component and an environmental one, and the hypothesis of a factor operating during pregnancy makes sense."

Whether or not they have semen abnormalities, experts say, men should do regular self-examinations for signs of testicular cancer. They should also see their doctor or a urologist if they have problems or questions about their risks.

For information about how to do a self-examination, see WebMD's article "Many Young Men Unaware of Importance of Testicular Exam."

Source: Study Finds Men with Semen Abnormalities Have Greater Cancer Risk By Elizabeth Tracey, MS. Reviewed by Dr. Pamela R. Yoder

Experts Raise Eyebrow at Link Between Exercise in Teen Years and Testicular Cancer


Two Canadian researchers say there seems to be a correlation between frequent strenuous activity during the teen years and testicular cancer. But experts who reviewed the study for WebMD say that there is no evidence adolescent boys should cut back on exercise.

The Canadian researchers, Anil Srivastava and Nancy Kreiger, MD, sent out a survey to more 200 men who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer and asked a number of questions relating to recreational exercise, occupational exercise, diet, marital status, years of schooling, household income, smoking habits, and height and weight. Out of this survey, the researchers found what appeared to be a significant associated risk between frequent moderate (more than five times a week) to strenuous recreational activity during the teen years and testicular cancer.

From their results, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, Srivastava and Kreiger theorize that this associated risk factor could possibly be due to several factors. They suggest a rise in hormone level during physical activity may have more of an effect on younger men than on older, or that testicular trauma associated with some sports such as cycling and horseback riding may cause the increase risk. Their final hypothesis is that muscle mass is associated with higher androgen (male sex hormone) production. They point to androgen levels in relation to prostate cancer for support.

"That hasn't been shown to be true for prostate cancer, so that is why I doubt this paper," says Joseph R. Wagner, MD, who reviewed the study for WebMD. Wagner is physician in charge of the urology/oncology department at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

Still, Srivastava and Kreiger conclude in their paper, "Important insights might also be gained from further investigation of the relation between hormone levels and physical activity, particularly with respect to frequency of exercise."

Wagner and Craig Nichols, MD, who was also asked to comment on the study, see major flaws in the study design.

"They just cast a broad net and something came out," Nichols explains. "Statistically that will happen if you ask enough questions -- something will be significant." Nichols is professor of medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University and a leading authority on testicular cancer.

Wagner says that a better-designed study might indeed give credence to the researchers' claim, but he feels that based on this study, high school athletes needn't cut back on activity.

"Are you going to tell all these young men not to exercise?" Wagner asks. "There's probably greater risk in that than for getting testicular cancer. The prevalence of [testicular cancer] is only 0.5 in 100,000."

The known risk factors for testicular cancer are undescended testicles and a family history of the disease. Too much exercise, on the other hand, is so far not supported by the body of medical literature, say Nichols and Wagner.

WebMD contacted Kreiger's office and was told that she would not comment on either the study or Nichols' and Wagner's comments.

Vital Information:

A new study shows that there may be an association between frequent, moderate exercise during the teen-age years and the development of testicular cancer later in life.

Researchers claim that a rise in male hormone levels or testicular trauma could explain the increased risk.

Two outside experts question the design of the study, and say that young men should continue to exercise, since the absolute risk of testicular cancer is so low.

Source: Association Not Completely Dismissed, but More Study Needed. By Candace Hoffmann

 One Hung Low


Q: One of my testicles hangs lower than the other. Also, I sometimes get a pain down there. Is this something I should worry about? --P.T., via the Internet

A: Whether you’re a lefty or a righty, relax. Having one testicle hang lower than the other one is not uncommon at all.

Now, about the pain you mentioned. It’s most likely nothing; you probably knocked your nuts a bit playing basketball. But be careful -- any time you have pain in a testicle or feel a lump there, it should be checked out by a doctor.

Don’t panic; there are lots of testicle problems that can be easily fixed. Even testicular cancer is highly curable when caught early. It isn’t common, but it can start in your teens. Your best bet is to have an examination. Your doctor can tell what’s causing it, and he’ll know what to do for treatment. Then, learn how to do a self-exam every month. Your life may depend upon it.

Sperm banking aids fatherhood after testicular cancer


Testicular cancer is a disease that commonly strikes young men, making the effects of treatment on fertility an important concern. Now from Norway come results of a study looking at how well some of these patients recover their ability to produce sperm and what options are open to them. www.healthcentral.com/news/newsfulltext.cfm?ID=46582&src=n111

Mountain Biking can be Rough on the Testicles


According to this Austrian study, mountain bikers have a high incidence of scrotal injuries such as calcium deposits, cysts and twisted veins. Fortunately, there are some ways to cut down on the risk of these injuries.
Source: www.healthcentral.com/drdean/DeanFullTextTopics.cfm?ID=43140&src=n45

Men "Unwilling" to Discuss Cancer


The charity found that women are more than twice as likely as men to call its nurses for general advice about cancer. A breakdown of calls made to Cancer Research UK information nurses between 1999 and 2001 shows that men made an average of 2,531 calls each year, while 5,617 were made by women. Women were also responsible for 45 per cent of calls about prostate cancer and 40 per cent of calls about testicular cancer. Cancer Research UK's psychological oncology group, which is based at the University of Sussex, says the findings highlight a common communication problem between the sexes. Group director Professor Lesley Fallowfield said, "Feelings can be quite hard for men to discuss, particularly if it's about things like male cancers which are threatening to their masculinity and manhood. "There's also a cultural expectation that big boys don't cry' and many men do not actually ask about things that trouble them - even if it's anonymously and over a phone line. So we have to find new ways of reaching them because sharing concerns can be a real help," she added. Cancer Research UK has designated June as Men's Cancer Month and is launching a message board on its website to encourage men to discuss their experiences. Radio 5 Live sports presenter Russell Fuller, 29, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1999, will be one of the first to post a message on the site. He discusses the uncertainty he experienced in the days leading up to diagnosis and urges other people to get unusual signs checked out. "Men generally don't like talking about their feelings as much and losing a testicle, like I did, can be embarrassing and almost like a loss of face," he said. "But I'm a very open person and talking about it was an invaluable help. My friends and family were very supportive, made a few jokes and did wonders for my state of mind!" The Cancer Research UK Men's Cancer Awareness Month message board can be reached at www.cancerresearchuk.org/menscancermonth

New Testicular Cancer Warning


The latest issue of the Lancet features the case of a 17-year-old who died four days after a road accident in which he had sustained only minor injuries. He was killed by a blood clot in the lung, which a post-mortem found was not linked to the accident, but to a testicular tumour which had probably been present for months. Another example of the importance of men reporting any worrying lumps to their GP.
Source: BBC News Online

Doctors Say Fewer Men Dying of Testicular Cancer


Early diagnosis and more effective treatments mean that deaths from testicular cancer are decreasing worldwide, despite a rise in the number of new cases of the illness, researchers reported on Friday.

Their study, published in The Lancet medical journal, showed that chemotherapy treatment could help to reduce death rates for the most common cancer among men aged 25 to 29.

"Testicular cancer is a classic example of cancer that is generally curable when the right treatment is given," said Professor Peter Boyle of Britain's Imperial Cancer Research Fund, a co-author of the report.

"In spite of the number of cases increasing, deaths from testicular cancer have been declining in North America and Western Europe since the late 70s," he added.

Death rates from the disease in men younger than 45 fell by about a third in the late 1980s compared to the 1970s.

Cases of testicular cancer, which affects one in 500 men, had been increasing since the 1930s. Denmark, Switzerland and Norway have the highest rates in the world.

After peaking in the United States in the 1960s, deaths from the illness have dropped by over 70%. In most of Europe deaths have declined by 67% since the 1970s. But in Eastern European nations the decline is only 22%--behind the United States, Japan and most of the rest of Europe.

"We must find out why testicular cancer death rates are so different in central and Eastern Europe," Boyle said, "otherwise there will continue to be several hundred preventable deaths occurring every year."

The researchers said their results indicate widespread inconsistencies in adequate treatments in central and Eastern Europe. If money is the problem, they suggested that urgent measures are needed to ensure that the best treatment is available to everyone.

Testicular cancer is curable in 90% of cases if it is caught and treated early. Symptoms include a lump or sore on the testicle, pain or soreness, a persistent cough, blood in the urine and stomach and bowel problems.

Scientists suspect exposure to high levels of the female hormone oestrogen in the womb could be part of the reason for the increase in the disease.

Familial testicular cancers account for an estimated 20% of cases.

There are also more cases among first-born sons and non-identical twins.

Source: news.excite.com/printstory/news/r/010608/17/health-cancer

*     *     *
The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young. - Willa Cather

As a non-profit organization, a purchase of books through us helps continue our work to end men's isolation. So, wherever you find a book you would like to purchase, click on the words "Buy this book". Or when you want to see other books on the issue that we might not be aware of, click on the "amazon.com" box at the end of that issue.

Search:

Enter keywords...

Amazon.com logo



tcaw Directory
Contact Us
A service of The National Men's Resource Center™
©1996-2013, The National Men's Resource Center
http://www.tcaw.org