Also known as Mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis testis, testicular mesothelioma is a rare form of mesothelioma/asbestos cancer. This form of cancer is so rare that researchers are yet to develop a thorough list of symptoms or even a standard treatment regime. Strangely, a majority of testicular mesothelioma patients have never been exposed to asbestos, which makes its diagnosis even more difficult. It accounts for about 1% or less of all mesothelioma cases.
Approximately 35 percent of all testicular mesothelioma patients have had a history of asbestos exposure.
What Causes Testicular Mesothelioma?
Being a rare form of cancer, its cause is still a mystery and although it’s connected to asbestos, not everyone who develops it has a history of asbestos exposure. While other types of mesothelioma are caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers, how asbestos moves to the testes and causes damage has not yet been well understood, although it’s considered a possibility. Some researchers suspect that it either originates from the pleura (outer lining of the lungs), peritoneum (outer lining of abdominal cavity and organs), or the pericardium (outer lining of the heart).
Research to unravel this mystery is still underway.
Diagnosis and Symptoms of Testicular Mesothelioma
Because it’s a rare type of cancer, pinpointing its symptoms has proven to be very difficult such that a diagnosis is only made during or after treatment, surgery in this case. Researchers have been exploring the effectiveness of using a preoperative scrotal ultrasound in attempt to get a breakthrough for its diagnosis.
Although its symptoms are not clearly defined, some of the reported symptoms include;
- Buildup/accumulation of fluid in the scrotum.
- Abnormal lump inside the scrotum.
- Pain and swelling in the testicles.
If you happen to be experiencing such symptoms and have a history of asbestos exposure, it’s highly advisable to seek medical advice right away. The longer it takes to diagnose the disease, the more serious it becomes.
Although this tumor is most often seen in patients between the ages of 55 and 75 years, 10% of patients are younger than 25 years.
Testicular Mesothelioma Treatment Options
Although the tumors of testicular mesothelioma can either be malignant or benign, sadly, diagnosis for most cases are made late and therefore the treatment cannot be considered as curative. Luckily, various treatment options for this cancer are available. These treatment options are mainly focused on alleviating the occurring symptoms such as pain, improving the patient’s life quality, and extending their lifespan.
Some of the common treatment options include;
- Radical Inguinal Orchiectomy: This is the most common type of treatment for the cancer which involves the removal of part or all of the affected testicle. This treatment is done to cure the cancer, but only if it’s carried out early before it has a chance to spread. An additional procedure such as lymphadenectomy may be performed so as to check whether the disease has spread or not.
- Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy: To completely shrink or kill cancerous cells in the affected testicle, some patients may receive either chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy in particular slows down the spread of the cancerous cells and even alleviates severe symptoms such as pain.
Surgery should be the first-line therapy in cases of early disease. Radical inguinal orchidectomy appears to be the optimum treatment.
A person with testicular mesothelioma usually has a better prognosis compared to those with other forms of cancer. Although it’s considered as aggressive, chances of being cured are usually higher, especially with surgery.
The median survival time for this type of cancer ranges from 1 year to 21 months. However, this depends on how early it’s diagnosed. One study published in The Canadian Journal of Urology reported that younger patients whose diagnosis has been made early have a better prognosis.