Tumor and Cancer Markers
Cancer is an ailment in which specific cells grow abnormally or uncontrollably and spread to other cells or parts of the human body. The thing about cancerous cells is that they don't follow the normal process that healthy cells in the body do. Normal cells grow and multiply (through cell division) to form new cells required by the body. When cells become damaged or grow old, they die and get replaced by new ones. However, that's not the case with cancerous cells, as they continue to grow and multiply even when they aren't supposed to.
When cancerous cells multiply, they form cell masses known as tumors, which grow big enough to interfere with normal body functions and damage healthy tissues. However, it's worth noting that not all types of cancers form tumors (for example, leukemia), and not all tumors found in the body are malignant. Others can be benign, meaning they are non-spreading and non-cancerous.
can metastasize (spread) beyond where it originated into nearby tissues, nodes, lymph nodes, and other organs. With that being said, it's worth noting that many different types of cancer can affect different parts of the human body. In most cases, each type of cancer is named according to the part/location of the body it originates from. While several laboratory tests are used to diagnose, screen, risk assessment, and manage cancer, not all lab tests are available for each type of cancer.
Cancers that affect the breast are typically malignant and result from abnormal growth of cells in the breast. Breast cancer primarily occurs in the ducts that transport milk to the nipples during lactation and in the milk-producing glands known as lobules.
It's worth noting that several types of cancer affect the breast, with each type having its unique characteristics. Some cancers are sensitive to the hormone progesterone and estrogen, while others instigate the production of high levels of certain proteins that help them grow. The specific characteristics of each type of cancer
determine the treatment option to be used and if the malignant tumor will recur.
In America, breast cancer affects more women than any other type of cancer, except for skin cancer. According to some studies, about one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer in the course of their life. The ACS (American Cancer Society) estimates that around 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. each year and that approximately 43,600 women will die of breast cancer. It is worth noting that men are also susceptible to developing the disease. According to the ACS, about 2,700 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and about five hundred die due to the disease.
Cervical cancer is a disease caused by the uncontrolled, abnormal growth of body cells in the cervix and the narrow bottom part of a lady's uterus shaped like a cone. The cervix is what connects a female's uterus to the vagina.
Virtually all types of cervical cancer result from persistent infections caused by specific types of HPV or human papillomavirus and a prevalent type of sexually transmitted disease (STD).
· High-Risk Human Papillomavirus: there are 14 types of high-risk HPV known to cause cancer (68, 66, 59, 58, 56, 52, 51, 45, 39, 35, 33, 31, 18, and 16). Two types, 16 and 18, are responsible for 80 percent of all cervical cancer cases.
· Low-Risk Human Papillomavirus: Some strains of Human Papillomavirus cause genital warts but hardly ever cause cancer. HPV 11 and HPV 6 cause 90 percent of all warts in the genital area but are tagged as 'low risk' as they seldom cause cancer.
Most Human Papillomavirus infections are quickly cleared by the body and generally don't require any treatment. However, diseases caused by persistent high-risk HPVs could cause cervical cancer. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that it could take years for a Human Papillomavirus infection to progress and become cancerous. High-risk HPV infections may cause affected cells to grow abnormally. And while your immune system can recognize such cells and limit their growth, the cells sometimes persist and end up becoming precancerous.
The onset of these precancerous changes makes the cells lining the outside or inside of the cervix look different from surrounding healthy cervical cells. If left untreated, these precancerous, atypical cells will likely progress and become cancerous. When they become cancerous, they are initially limited to the place of origin or surface lining. Without treatment, cancerous cells could end up becoming invasive, attacking the cervix's supporting tissues, and could even spread to other parts of the body.
Cervical cancer comes in two primary forms. These are:
· Squamous cell carcinomas. These affect the flat squamous cells covering the outer part of the cervix and are some of the most common. As per the ACS, nine out of ten cervical cancer cases are squamous cell carcinomas.
· Adenocarcinomas. These typically affect the mucus-producing glands found at the endocervix (the opening of the cervix) and are responsible for most of the remaining cervical cancer cases.
It's worth noting that some cervical cancers can be a mix of both forms.
The good news about cervical cancer is that it can be treated if detected early, and treatment typically involves removing cancerous cells through surgery. The five-year survival rate for patients whose cancer was spotted on time and received treatment early is well over 90 percent. However, in situations where the infection has spread beyond the outer part of the cervix, treatment might involve the use of chemotherapy, a hysterectomy, or radiation.
Allowed to thrive, cervical cancer could metastasize (spread) to the bladder, uterus, abdominal walls, and rectum. If not treated in time, cervical cancer could spread to the pelvic lymph nodes and other parts of the body. The more cervical cancer spreads, the harder it becomes to cure and the more likely it will lead to death.
The ACS estimates that over 14,480 American women will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in 2021, and around 4,250 will die from it.
While cervical cancer (invasive) was once rampant in the United States, the introduction of the Pap (Papanicolaou) smear, aka pap test, led to the invasive infections declining by over 70 percent. Pap smear is a screening tool that's used to detect precancerous and cancerous changes in the cervix. In recent days, tests capable of detecting high-risk forms of HPV are being included in the available cervical cancer screening regimens.
However, it's worth noting that cervical cancer still poses a danger to specific populations in America. For instance, Hispanic women in the U.S. are more prone to developing cervical cancer than other women. At the same time, women in developing countries are at a higher risk as access to screening programs and healthcare is limited. According to data provided by the WHO, invasive cervical cancer is amongst the most common forms of cancer that affect women worldwide. In 2018 alone, 570,000 cases of invasive cervical cancer were diagnosed. About 85 percent of all cancer-related deaths in the world happen in developing countries.
Colorectal cancer is characterized by the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of body cells within the tissue layers that line the colon, which is a part of your digestive tract. The colon, also known as the large bowel, is at least five feet long and is what makes up a majority of your large intestine. As part of the path food follows through your body, the colon sits between the small intestines and the rectum. Its primary purpose is to absorb salts and water, form stool, and help the body get rid of waste.
Cancers affecting the rectum and colon are sometimes banded together and referred to as colorectal cancer. In this post, they'll be referred to only as colon cancer. This form of cancer is the third-most-common non-skin cancer affecting adults in America and the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women and men in the U.S.
The colon contains glands that produce mucus, which is used to lubricate the lining of the rectum and colon. Most forms of colon malignancies are adenocarcinomas, meaning that they start inside the cells that form the mucus glands in the colon. Most colon cancer cases start with the growth of some types of benign polyps known as adenomas, which are finger-like growths that poke into the intestinal cavity. Adenomas are quite common in persons over 50 years old, and most are benign.
Colon adenomas have varying levels of risk of developing into cancerous cells. The size, type, and the number of adenomas an individual has determines the extent and type of treatment or follow-up testing needed. Once cancer turns into a polyp, it becomes easier for it to attack colon tissues and metastasize to other body parts. The tumors formed could create obstructions in the intestine, complicating the stool elimination process.
The ACS estimates about 104,200 cases of colon cancer and 45,200 cases of rectal cancer in the U.S. in 2021. The lifetime risk of developing this form of cancer in America is about 1 in 25(4.0%) for women and 1 in 23 (4.3%) for men. However, in recent years, the number of colon cancer-related deaths has dropped considerably as new and improved screening protocols, and techniques have made eliminating most precancerous polyps more effective, preventing the growth and development of cancer. Similarly, better screening has made it easier to detect more types of cancer in their early stages when they're easier to treat.
While the number of reported colon cancer cases has dropped over the last two decades in people older than 55 years, there's been a 51% increase in reported colon cancer cases and related deaths amongst people aged 50 years and below since 1994. In 2018, the American Cancer Society lowered the recommended age for starting colon cancer screening from 50 years to 45 years after experts determined that starting screening earlier could help ensure that colon cancer in at-risk people is spotted and treated before it becomes malignant.
Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects blood and blood-forming tissues. Bone marrow, located in the spongy part of the bones (primarily the sternum, vertebrae, bones of pelvis, and ribs), is responsible for making early blood-making cells, white blood cells, platelets, and precursors of red blood cells. These juvenile blood cell precursors mature and grow in the bone marrow until they are ready to be released into the bloodstream.
Leukemia, which primarily affects the born marrow, starts to develop when the marrow makes abnormal blood cells that split uncontrollably. While leukemia mainly affects white blood cells, it can still affect other blood cells too. The primary purpose of white blood cells in your body is to fight infections. However, in leukemia, the cells, referred to as leukemia cells, take longer to die and start to accumulate and force out healthy cells, including normal white blood cells, platelets, and red blood cells in the bone marrow. This blood cancer makes it hard for the body to deliver oxygen to tissues and fight infections at advanced stages.
As time goes by, leukemia cells may spread through the bloodstream and bone marrow, where they continue to develop and may even end up forming solid tumors or cause damage to different organs. It's worth noting that different types of leukemia will affect different body organs in different ways. For instance, the lymph nodes, spleen, and liver may become swollen and enlarged due to abnormal cells. In some cases, cancerous cells may even reach the brain and spinal cord, which make up the central nervous system, and could even accumulate in the cerebrospinal fluid.
In the U.S., over 60,000 people are diagnosed with leukemia each year, with over 23,000 dying of the disease. This condition mainly affects adults over 55 years but is the most common form of cancer in children under 15
years of age. The cause of most types of leukemia is not yet known. However, studies show that exposure to cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene, radiation, and some anticancer medication increases the risk of developing leukemia. Some leukemia cases, however, are caused by rare viral infections or genetic disorders.
The liver is one of the body's most vital organs. The football-sized organ, which is located on the upper right-hand side of your abdomen, weighs about 3 pounds and serves various functions in the body, including:
- - Eliminating bacteria from the blood
- - Producing enzymes and proteins
- - Regulating blood clotting
- - Storing some types of vitamins
- - Processing and detoxifying harmful substances
- - Producing bile, which is vital for digestion
- - Maintaining hormonal balance
- - Making nutrients and other elements that help the immune system fight off infection
- - Converting nutrients acquired from food into vital blood components
Bile, which is a greenish-yellowish fluid that's made up of salts or bile acids and waste products like bilirubin (what you get after old red blood cells have been broken down), flows through tiny bile ducts found in the liver. The fluid flows through these small ducts to bigger ones like tributaries and eventually converges in the bile duct before leaving the liver. Some of the fluid flows to the duodenum, while the rest is deposited in the gallbladder. After you've eaten, the gallbladder, which is about the size of a fist and is located next to the liver, starts to release concentrated bile into your small intestines to help digest fats.
Liver disease refers to any condition that causes liver damage or inflammation or affects how the liver functions. The disease is typically categorized by its effect on the liver and its cause. Causes may include exposure to toxic compounds or drugs, injury, infections, a genetic defect, or an autoimmune process that leads to the dumping and build-up of harmful substances like copper or iron in the liver. Effects of liver injury include blood clotting abnormalities, obstructions, liver failure, scarring, and inflammation.
Lung cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of lung cells, especially in cells lining air passages in the lungs. Cancerous cells in the lungs don't go through the normal stages of a healthy cell. Instead, they replicate uncontrollably, forming several tumors (masses of cells). If left unchecked, lung cancer could end up damaging healthy cells and tissue and even interfere with breathing. The tumors could eventually metastasize (spread) beyond the lungs into nearby tissues, lymph nodes, and other organs.
Lungs play a crucial role in the respiratory system and are located inside a rib cage in the chest area and sit right above the diaphragm. When you breathe in, air enters your lungs and flows through tiny passages known as bronchioles and bronchi, which carry oxygen to alveoli (small sacs) deep inside your lungs. Here, oxygen is supplied to the bloodstream while carbon dioxide moves from the bloodstream into the lungs for exhalation. Any disease that affects this process could limit the amount of oxygen the body receives, affecting organs and tissues throughout the body.
According to the ACS, lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in both women and men and is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. More people die of this disease annually than of colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined. Globally, about 13 percent of new cancer cases reported are lung cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, over 235,000 new cases are reported each year, with over 131,000 people dying of the disease. While anyone can develop lung cancer, a majority of new cases involve people aged 65 or older.
Lung cancer often starts developing in one of the cell types found in the lungs. Most infections are thought to result from acquired genetic mutations or changes in DNA that either inhibit their natural death or promote the uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cancerous cells.
Lungs are also a very common site for spread from other types of cancers like liver and breast cancer. Cancers that spread from different areas of the body to the lungs, like metastatic breast cancer, aren't considered lung cancer as they are treated differently.
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system and starts when lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells, grow and divide uncontrollably. Lymphocytes play a crucial role in helping the body defend itself against disease and infections and circulate through the body via the lymphatic system and blood.
The lymphatic system comprises a network of lymph vessels (lymphatics) and nodes that drain fluids from body tissues and transport them as lymph back into the bloodstream. Lymph nodes can be found in chains and individually along lymphatic vessels found in the groin, abdomen, chest, armpits, and neck. The nodes filter out lymph fluid, eliminating any abnormal cells and microbes that may be present. It's worth noting that these nodes contain several types of lymphocytes, including:
· T-lymphocytes, which help control the body's immune system. These lymphocytes help initiate an immune response, control how small or big it should be, and shut down the system when it's not needed. Furthermore, they can identify and eliminate unwanted substances from the body.
· B-lymphocytes, which are responsible for making antibodies. Antibodies are proteins produced in response to an infection and help the body fight off infections like hepatitis, measles, or mumps.
· Natural Killer cells make up about 10 to 15 percent of all lymphocytes found in your blood. These cells attack and destroy abnormal cells that are either infected with viruses or that are cancerous.
All of these cells can be involved in lymphoma. When they start growing uncontrollably, abnormal lymphocytes could end up outnumbering normal, healthy cells in lymph nodes, causing the nodes to become enlarged. The problematic cells could start spreading to other lymph nodes or organs, including:
- · Tonsils
- · Thymus
- · Adenoids
- · Bone marrow
- · The spleen
Apart from lymph nodes, the condition can also develop in other internal organs and tissues such as the brain, stomach, and intestines.
It's worth noting that there are two common types of lymphoma: T-cell lymphomas and B-cell lymphomas (the latter is more common). Natural killer cell lymphoma is quite rare.
Skin cancer is amongst the most common forms of cancer diagnosed in America. While melanoma is one of the least common types of skin cancer, it is the deadliest. While only 4 percent of all reported cases of skin cancer are melanoma, the condition is responsible for 75 percent of all skin cancer-related deaths.
Melanoma starts with abnormal growth of skin pigment cells known as melanocytes located in the epidermis (the base of your skin's top layer). Your skin darkens after tanning because the skin pigment cells increase melanin production to protect the deeper layers of your skin from the sun. When these cells become malignant, they appear on the skin's surface as a raised, discolored skin lesion or a new pigmented spot.
Most cases of melanoma start in the skin but may also occur in other parts of the body, including:
- · Mucous membranes
- · Eyes
- · Urinary tract
- · Digestive system
- · Innermost layers of tissues surrounding the spinal cord and brain
While fair-skinned individuals are more prone to developing melanoma, the condition can still affect people with different skin colors. Over the last 40 years, the number of melanoma cases has been on the increase. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the rate of melanoma in America more than doubled between 1982 and 2011. According to the ACS, over 106,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year, with over 7,000 patients expected to lose their lives due to the condition in 2021.
Avoiding tanning beds and sun exposure is the best way to protect yourself from melanoma. The best treatment option for melanoma at the moment involves surgically removing the affected skin or lesions. Melanoma's prognosis is much better if the condition is caught early. That's why you need to understand your risk for the condition and skin changes that could signify melanoma.
Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects plasma cells. These cells are made by only one kind of white blood cell, the B-lymphocyte, and play a vital role in the immune system. Plasma cells have one primary function, and that is producing antibodies. On the other hand, antibodies are targeted immunoglobulin proteins that protect the body against diseases and infections.
Plasma cells are generally produced when needed. When your body is exposed to a disease-causing type of virus or bacteria, it turns some B-lymphocyte cells into plasma cells and starts to make antibodies. Plasma cells are found in lymphoid tissues, the respiratory tract, and bone marrow but in very low numbers.
However, there are times when plasma cells become malignant and start to divide uncontrollably, forming growths in the bone marrow, forcing out healthy cells. Over time, the tumors interfere with the normal production of cells and wear down the surrounding bone, creating holes (lytic lesions) and soft spots. Myeloma has different names depending on how serious the condition is; these include:
· Plasmacytoma: This is when only a single tumor forms in a bone or anywhere else in the body.
· Multiple myeloma: This is why several plasma cell tumors form in a bone.
Since the cancerous cells are all clones of one plasma cell, they make identical antibodies called M-proteins or abnormal monoclonal immunoglobulins that are present in the urine and blood.
Your body generally makes five types of immunoglobulins - IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM. Each type plays a slightly different function in the immune system, and each contains protein chains, two identical short (light) protein chains, and two identical long (heavy) protein chains.
· The short, light chains are made up of two different types, lambda, and kappa
· The long, heavy chains are made up of one of five types of protein that correspond with the immunoglobulin being produced:
- Alpha (IgA)
- Delta (IgD)
- Epsilon (IgE)
- Gamma (IgG)
- Mu (IgM)
Within plasma cells, two light chains of a similar type and two heavy ones of a similar type attach to form a singular immunoglobulin molecule. It's worth noting that each plasma cell produces only one kind of protein or immunoglobulin.
In persons suffering from multiple myeloma, the cancerous cells make only one type of whole (intact) immunoglobulin protein in copious amounts and create an excess of only the light, short-chain, or, in very rare occasions, the heavy, long-chain only. Though the identical light chains of immunoglobulins, also known as M-proteins or monoclonal proteins, produced by malignant cells vary from person to person, they are typically the same in one person since they are all products of a cloned plasma cell.
The form of myeloma an individual has it generally referred to by the M proteins produced:
· Intact immunoglobulin: Most people who suffer from myeloma typically have IgA and IgG myeloma, with the IgG variant making up about 60 percent of all types of myeloma and IgA variants taking up 20 percent. Cases of IgD and IgE are quite rare. In cases where a person produces monoclonal IgM, there's a possibility that they have a related but dissimilar condition known as Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.
· Light chain: Myeloma patients who produce abnormal amounts of light chain only are quite rare and make up for about 20 percent of all cases. The M proteins they produce are call Bence Jones proteins or free light chain proteins. Extra free light chains are released into the patient's bloodstream, and since they're quite small, they get filtered out by the kidneys and disposed of through urine. These chains are normally found in very small amounts in the blood but copious amounts in urine.
Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cells within a female's ovary. Ovaries are reproductive glands located on the sides of a woman's uterus,
located in the lower abdomen.
Ovaries serve two main functions:
· To produce the hormones progesterone and estrogen are responsible for regulating a woman's reproductive cycle and the growth and development of secondary sexual features like pubic hair and breasts.
· To develop and release eggs (ova) into the fallopian tube once every month during childbearing years.
Cancer of the ovaries is the fifth more common cause of cancer-related deaths in women in America. According to the ACS, a woman's lifetime risk of developing the condition in the U.S. is about 1 in 78. The ACS estimates that about 21,410 new ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed every year in the U.S., and about 13,700 women die from the condition.
Invasive ovarian cancer is a lot deadlier than the easily detected and more prevalent uterine cancer and cervical cancer. The problem with ovarian cancer is that it's hard to detect, which means that it's often diagnosed when it's already at an advanced, difficult-to-treat stage.
Ovarian tumors can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). It's generally not easy to tell whether ovarian tumors are malignant until the affected ovaries have been removed, biopsied, or the condition has spread to other organs and body parts. Ovarian tumors fall into 1 of 3 categories:
· Epithelial tumors: These tumors start growing in the epithelial cells that cover the outer part of an ovary and are the most common.
· Germ Cell tumors: These occur in the cells that produce eggs and mostly affect younger women. Account for less than 2 percent of all reported ovarian tumor cases.
· Stromal tumors: These originate from ovarian connective tissues that produce progesterone and estrogen. Account for less than 1 percent of all reported ovarian tumor cases.
While benign tumors don't metastasize, malignant ones will spread if left untreated and first through the ovaries, then through the uterus, rectum, bladder, and abdomen lining. Over time, malignant cells will travel and reach the lymph nodes and eventually spread through the body.
Pancreatic cancer is a condition where abnormal cells in the pancreas grow uncontrollably. The affected cells form cancerous tumors that inhibit the operation of the pancreas, damage surrounding tissue, and can eventually metastasize (spread) to nearby and distant tissues and organs.
The pancreas is a slim, flat gland that's about six inches long located in your abdominal cavity below the liver and behind the stomach. Something worth noting about the pancreas is that it has a tail, body, and head, which is connected to the first part of the duodenum (small intestine).
· Inside the gland, small tubes (ducts) feed the bicarbonate and digestive enzymes it produces to the pancreatic duct. The duct then carries these down the pancreas' length, from the tail section to the head then to the duodenum.
· The bile duct also runs through the pancreas' head, carrying bile from the gallbladder and liver into the small intestine.
· The pancreatic and bile ducts usually join right before entering the duodenum and sharing one passage into the small intestine.
The pancreas consists of two types of tissues that perform varying functions:
· The exocrine pancreas produces, stores, and releases strong enzymes that digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the small intestines. Some of these enzymes are made and transported to the small intestine in an inactive form where they are activated when needed. Exocrine tissues also produce and release bicarbonates that neutralize stomach acids and activate pancreatic enzymes.
· The endocrine pancreas makes different hormones, including glucagon and insulin, and releases them into your bloodstream. These hormones help regulate how glucose (sugar) is transported to body cells, where it's used to help balance blood sugar levels and energy.
About 95 percent of all pancreatic cancers start in exocrine tissue cells. These cancers are generally difficult to detect at the early stages of the condition. The symptoms are either absent or very subtle, and tumors can't be felt or seen during physical examinations. The condition has already spread throughout the gland and beyond by the time symptoms like jaundice start to appear.
Cancer may also start in pancreatic cells that produce hormones known as neuroendocrine cells. These tumors, aka islet cell tumors, don't occur very often.
· Islet cell tumors are easier to detect than exocrine tumors because they often cause symptoms and signs when they produce excess amounts of pancreatic hormones like glucagon and insulin. Simple lab tests can be used to check pancreatic hormone levels in the bloodstream and determine if they're elevated.
· A majority of islet cell tumors are benign (non-cancerous) and won't spread. The malignant (cancerous) ones tend to develop and spread a lot slower than exocrine tumors.
In the U.S., pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women and men. According to the ACS, about 60,400 Americans are diagnosed with this form of cancer each year, with about 48,220 people dying from it.
Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that affects thyroid gland cells. The gland, shaped like a butterfly, is located at the base of the neck right under your Adam's apple, is responsible for producing hormones that regulate weight, body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Thyroid cancer might not show any symptoms initially, but as it continues to grow, it can cause swelling and pain in your neck. It's worth noting that several types of thyroid cancer grow slowly while others are quite aggressive. Fortunately, most forms of thyroid cancer are treatable.
Prostate cancer is the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells in the prostate, a tiny, walnut-shaped gland that enfolds the upper urethra in males. The gland is responsible for producing a fluid that's used to make semen. Worth noting about the prostate gland is that while it comprises several types of cells, almost all cancers that affect the prostate start in the cells that make prostate fluid. These cancers are known as adenocarcinomas.
Prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer amongst men following skin cancer. At least one in nine men will be diagnosed with cancer of the prostate in the course of their lifetime. According to the ACS, about 248,500 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in America each year with, as many as 34,100 men dying from it.
While some forms of prostate cancer develop and spread quickly, most of them grow slowly and never cause any problems. According to the American Cancer Society, older men and some young men who lost their lives due to other causes had prostate cancer but weren't affected by it, with most not even knowing they had it.
Testicular cancer is the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells in the testicles that form tumors on either one of the testicles. Men typically have two testicles (gonads, testes) located in their scrotum at the base of their penis. The purpose of testicles in men is to produce male hormones (testosterone) that regulate adult males' maturation process, development of their sex organs, and make sperm.
Testicular cancer is mostly a disease of middle-aged and young men. About half of all recorded testicular cancer cases occur in men between the ages of 20 and 34, with the average age at diagnosis being 33. According to the ACS, about 9,400 men get diagnosed with the condition in America each year, and about 440 men die as a result of the condition.
Testicular cancer is highly treatable, and its five-year relative survival rate is 99 percent for localized cancer (cancer that hasn't spread beyond the affected testicle or testicles).