Is lower back pain a sign of testicular cancer in men?

Is lower back pain a sign of testicular cancer in men?

Testicular cancer is not as common in Indian men as it is in western countries. However, its prevalence cannot be ignored. Around 1 percent of men between ages 15 to 35 can suffer from testicular cancer. This is a type of a solid tumour that grows in one or both of the testicles and can lead to lower back pain if it spreads outside the organ. Here are seven unusual causes of back pain that you should know about.

However, back pain is not usually considered as a parameter to check for testicular cancer. Since there are other physical symptoms that could be indicative of the problem, a symptom like back pain is usually ignored in this context. The most common signs of testicular cancer are swelling in the organ, redness and occasional pain when it is in its initial stages. Back pain presents itself when the cancer spreads outside the organ. Did you know that muscle building supplements can increase your risk of testicular cancer be 65 percent?

In a research paper dated back in 1987, two case studies where two teenagers presented with the symptom of lower back pain were studied. They were treated symptomatically and when they failed to get any respite with conventional treatment, doctors tried to look further and found that testicular cancer had spread outside the organ [1]. In a recent pilot study, done in 2014 where references were taken from the older 1987 study also found that back pain does indicate the presence of testicular cancer in its advanced state [2].

Why one should not ignore lower back pain

In 1987, a researcher quoted two case studies to establish a link between back pain and testicular cancer. In one case a 17-year-old boy presented to his doctor a severe backache and was treated for a slipped disc. The pain was so severe that it stopped him from working and exuberated while sneezing or coughing. But the pain didn’t radiate to other parts of the body. Even after a month of treatment, the pain became worse and he developed overall weakness and numbness in the left thigh. A two-week traction course was given which further worsened the condition. When he went for a neurological opinion and myelography it was seen that there was a compression of the L2-4 cord of the spine. At this point, his scrotum was also examined and a hard lump of mass was felt on this left testis. When blood was drawn from the mass and examined it confirmed the presence of non-seminomatous germ cell cancer which had spread to the lungs and was identified as a grade IV cancer. Chemotherapy was given to shrink the cancer and a thoracotomy was done to remove the cancer from the lungs. This helped him to be disease free. Here are symptoms of prostate cancer that every man should know.

The researcher also mentioned another case of a 15-year-old boy who presented with a nagging lower back pain. There was no other neurological sign and within weeks the pain worsened and made him lethargic. His general practitioner directed him to an orthopaedic clinic where he was treated with the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. However, during a follow-up, it was noted that the symptoms didn’t subside and the pain increased exponentially. He was then referred to a rheumatologist who treated him with a different set of NSAIDs, still, there was no change in his symptoms. Bed rest and physiotherapy was advised which did less to take care of his symptoms but made him lose weight and weak. When his scrotum was checked at this point, a hard lump was seen in the left testis. A biopsy was done which confirmed a non-seminomatous germ cell tumour. An abdominal sonography showed metastasis in the liver and chest radiography showed multiple cancerous growths in the lungs. Despite advanced chemotherapy to treat the cancer which was a stage IV carcinoma, the boy didn’t survive. Here are 10 dos and don’ts during chemotherapy that everyone should know.

In 2014, another documented case showed that a 26-year-old complained of a low-grade back pain for a year and was given a conventional treatment of painkillers and physiotherapy. The man also sought help from a chiropractor but it didn’t help. Further investigation showed that the pain in the lower back was the sign of metastasis testicular cancer with a mass present in his right testis.

The study then concluded that for men who never experienced any heaviness, swelling or pain in the testis and still faced severe back pain which refused to go away with the conventional modes of treatment should be taught to examine their testis and look for any abnormal growth or lump and report it to the doctor to avoid complications.

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