Men should pay close attention if their testicles are uneven, because this might be an indicator of kidney cancer, a doctor at Taipei Veterans General Hospital said yesterday.
A sudden increase in the size of one of the testicles usually indicates spermatic varicocele in teenagers and younger males, but among adults and middle-aged men, it is a sign that the testicular veins are under pressure from malignant tumors, said Chang Yen-hua (張延驊), a urologist.
Citing a recent case, Chang said that cancer cells in the kidney of a patient blocked his left renal vein, inadvertently blocking bloodflow into the testicular veins and causing an engorgement of the left testicle.
As the cancer cells had recurred several times, doctors have surgically removed the patient’s left kidney and part of his lungs, Chang said.
The patient is undergoing targeted therapy and the number of malignant tumors have been reduced from seven to four, he said..
Taiwan Total Cancer Care Foundation president Hsieh Ruey-kuen (謝瑞坤) said that since the kidneys are located in the retroperitoneum, people should be on their guard when they experience hematuria, or blood in the urine, or feel a lump or continuous pain in the abdominal area, because these could be symptoms of cancer.
Between 20 percent and 30 percent of patients are not aware that they have cancer until the cancer cells have migrated, Hsieh said.
These cells usually spread to the lungs, the liver, parts of the lymphatic system, bone marrow or parts of the brain, he said.
Treatment for kidney cancer usually involves surgery, with targeted therapy medication being used only recently, Hsieh said, adding that targeted therapy has side effects, such as swelling in the limbs and skin inflammation.
Despite the side effects, now that targeted therapy is being covered by the National Health Insurance program, cancer patients have an additional option of cancer treatment, Hsieh said.
Department of Health statistics show that kidney cancer patients are usually aged above 40, with males twice as susceptible as women.
About 900 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer every year in Taiwan, with the number of people with the disease increasing 20 percent over a five-year period starting from 2005.
Ninety percent of the patients are diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, which is responsible for the malignant tumors in the kidney region.