Testicular cancer: Nursing

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Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer that can affect one or both testicles or testes. However, when it occurs, it’s usually in individuals assigned male at birth that are between 15 to 44 years old.

Let’s start with some anatomy and physiology. The testes are a pair of reproductive organs located inside the scrotum that hangs under the base of the penis, and are mainly responsible for producing testosterone and sperm cells. On a cross-section, each testicle has septa that partition it into lobules. Each lobule contains up to four seminiferous tubules, where sperm is synthesized from germ cells. These seminiferous tubules are lined up by specialized epithelial cells that contain Sertoli cells which envelopes and supplies nutrients to developing spermatocytes. Outside the tubules are Leydig cells, which produce and release testosterone.

Although the exact cause behind testicular cancer is unknown, there are risk factors that can contribute to the development of testicular cancer. Such risk factors include Klinefelter syndrome; cryptorchidism, which means undescended testes; hypospadias, which is when the urethra opens underneath the tip of the penis; as well as having a past history of testicular anomalies, cancer, or radiation in the genital area; having HIV or AIDS; frequent marijuana use; and maternal exposure to pesticides or exogenous estrogen during pregnancy.


Testicular cancers are malignant tumors that form in one or both testes. The cause is unknown, but risk factors include pre-existing conditions such as Klinefelter syndrome, cryptorchidism, hypospadias, history of testicular abnormalities, radiation of the genital area, HIV or AIDS, marijuana use, or maternal use of pesticides.

Major types of testicular cancer include germ-cell testicular cancer and non-germ-cell testicular cancer. Germ cell testicular cancers come from germ cells that normally develop into sperm. Common symptoms include a unilateral, non-tender, firm, and painless lump in the scrotum, dull or sharp pain in the testes and hormonal symptoms like gynecomastia. When metastasis occurs there could also be symptoms like jaundice, back pain, bone pain, and respiratory distress. Treatment involves surgery, sometimes in combination with chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.

Nursing management of care focuses on managing the effects of treatment, monitoring for metastasis, and providing psychosocial support. Client and family teaching focuses on learning about the planned treatment and the importance of testicular self-examination.


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