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A testicular neoplasm is an abnormal growth found in the testicle, or testis. The term neoplasia can refer to any kind of abnormal growth, so a neoplasm could be a benign tumor or a malignant tumor. Malignant tumors are cancerous, while benign tumors are not. Most testicular tumors are cancerous but fortunately testicular cancer is not very common and represents only around one percent of all male cancers. The outlook for a testicular neoplasm is frequently positive, as many are curable when treated promptly.
Usually, a testicular neoplasm arises from what are known as germ cells, or reproductive cells. Most tumors develop in the cells that go on to form sperm, and they are known as seminomas. Nonseminomas are tumors formed from other types of germ cell. A testicular neoplasm is most likely to develop in a white male between the age of 15 and 35, but the cause is unknown. The most common symptom is a painless lump, although some men may experience aching or a sensation of heaviness in the testicle.
Sometimes patients do not visit the doctor until a testicular tumor has spread, causing signs of malignancy in other parts of the body. The process of tumor spread is known as metastasis, and the new tumor growths in different areas of the body are called metastases. Depending on the locations of these metastases, symptoms might include coughing and breathlessness, nausea and loss of appetite, back pain or a lump in the neck. Some tumors secrete hormones which can cause swollen breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia.
The diagnosis of a testicular neoplasm is usually confirmed using an ultrasound scan. A chest X-ray and a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the pelvis and abdomen are then carried out to detect any signs of spread. The treatment of a testicular neoplasm typically involves surgical removal of the affected testicle, together with nearby lymph nodes. Depending on the type of tumor and how far the cancer has spread, surgery may be followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Seminomas carry a good prognosis when they are treated in the early stages. For stage I cancers, where the testicular neoplasm is treated before it has spread beyond the testicle, around 95 percent of patients survive for at least five years. Nonseminomas have a less positive prognosis, with around 86 percent of men still alive after five years. After successful treatment, patients usually have regular follow-up appointments to check for cancer recurrence.