Testicular Cancer In Childhood: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Testicular cancer is cancer of testis. The two testicles are of the size of ping pong ball. They lie inside the baglike skin structure called scrotum. Testicles hang below the penis and they are part of male reproductive organs. They also produce hormones mainly the sex hormone testosterone which gives sex drive in men. Testicles also produce sperm.

Cancer of testes is rare and it can occur in adults as well as in children. Usually testicular cancer in children occurs after the child has attained puberty between the age of 15 to 30 years.

Before puberty cancer of testes is very rare. The cause of uncontrolled growth of testicular cells is not known, but the risk is increased in undescended testes and if there is family history of testicular cancer.

Cancer of testis develops as a painless hard lump. Treatment consists of radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery depending on the severity and spread of cancer.

Symptoms Of Testicular Cancer In Children

The symptoms of testicular cancer in children can be those that occur locally as well as those caused by abnormal secretion of hormones produced by testes. Generally cancer of testes is unilateral, meaning only one testis is affected.

It usually develops in children above the age of 15 years or those who have attained pubertal period.

One of the main symptoms is that the affected testis becomes extremely hard. On examination a lump or a hard mass can be felt in the scrotum. Patient feels his scrotum heavier than before. The size of scrotum and testes becomes large. He may also complain of pain in abdomen or in the groin area.

Since testes also produce male hormones, an abnormal increase in male hormones can cause several bodily changes. It may lead to increase in breast size in the child and premature hair growth on face, underarms and pubic area.

If the cancer is in advanced stage it can spread to other tissues and organs through lymph fluid and blood. Patient may then complain of pain in lymph nodes, pain in abdomen or breathlessness due to secondary proliferation of cancer cells in lymph nodes, abdomen and lungs.

Causes Of Testicular Cancer In Childhood

As such cancer of testes in children is rare and very few causes have been associated with its occurrence. The exact cause for its development in children is not known, but certain factors increase the risk of its development.

  • The condition is more seen in children of white origin than any other races.
  • Abnormally developed testes.
  • Undescended testes.
  • History of cancer of testes in family member.
  • A child born to HIV positive mother or the child himself suffering from HIV.
  • Children suffering from chromosomal diseases.

Treatment Options For Testicular Cancer

Treatment and its prognosis mainly depend on the type of testicular cancer in children. There are several types of tumors of testes, and 80 percent among them are yolk sac tumor. In younger children the prognosis after treatment is good. Teratomas are benign tumors and they appear after the boy is more than 14 months old.

Malignant tumors of testes need to be treated. The affected testis is surgically removed if the cancer is localized and has not spread to other areas of the body. In case if the cancer has spread to other areas such as the abdominal lymph nodes or lungs or liver, than besides surgery, patient may also need chemotherapy and radiation.