Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest form of mesothelioma. It occurs in less than one percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses.
The Rarest Form of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma typically presents itself in the chest or abdomen, but in rare circumstances, it can develop in the testicles. Testicular mesothelioma occurs when mutated cells in the lining surrounding the testicle begin replicating uncontrollably.
Understanding Testicular Mesothelioma
Common symptoms, such as pain and swelling, are similar to several other illnesses. This is why a tissue biopsy is recommended to get an accurate diagnosis.
Surgery is the foundation for treating testicular mesothelioma. Chemotherapy and radiation are also used.
Patients with testicular mesothelioma generally live 20 months or longer after their diagnosis. Testicular mesothelioma has a slightly better prognosis than mesothelioma in the chest or abdomen.
How Does Mesothelioma Develop in the Testicles?
Mesothelioma is caused by a mutation of mesothelial cells that make up the lining of certain organs, most commonly the lungs. Mesothelial linings help provide movement for organs like the lungs to expand and contract. These linings are also integral in allowing free movement for the testicles.
The lining of the testicles is known as the tunica vaginalis. When mesothelioma develops in the tunica vaginalis, the lining starts to thicken and produce fluid buildup.
There is a significant lack of research on testicular mesothelioma at this time. Although, asbestos exposure has been associated with some cases of testicular mesothelioma, there isn’t any concrete evidence to support asbestos exposure as a definitive cause of this disease.
Approximately 35 percent of all testicular mesothelioma patients have had a history of asbestos exposure.
Although asbestos hasn’t been definitively linked to testicular mesothelioma, asbestos is known to lodge into the lining of organs. It is also capable of traveling through the body. Several workers with histories of occupational asbestos exposure diagnosed with testicular mesothelioma have even won legal claims because of the known dangers of asbestos.
Diagnosis and Symptoms
One of the reasons mesothelioma is so hard to diagnose is because there isn’t much research on the disease. It is harder to find common symptoms in diseases as rare as mesothelioma because there aren’t enough cases for doctors to study and compare.
Testicular mesothelioma is usually only properly diagnosed through a biopsy after surgery. Most doctors initially confuse testicular mesothelioma with other cancers or hernias. The most common symptom of testicular mesothelioma is the swelling of the testicles, but this symptom is not unique to this disease.
Like other forms of mesothelioma, testicular mesothelioma also has a latency period that makes it hard to diagnose. The latency period is an estimated 20 to 50 years.
Testicular mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer and is almost always treated with aggressive surgery. Surgery is used to prevent the spread of the cancer to other organs and lymph nodes in the body. Surgical treatment for testicular mesothelioma primarily involves the removal of the affected testicle(s).
Peritoneal surgery (surgery of the abdomen) may also be used if any cancer is found in the abdominal region during diagnostic procedures. Mesothelioma found in the tunica vaginalis is often secondary to peritoneal mesothelioma, a result of the disease spreading.
Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used in addition to surgery to kill remaining mesothelioma cells left behind from surgery. This combination of treatment therapies gives patients the highest chances for survival.
Incidence and Life Expectancy
Mesothelioma in the lining of the testicles is a rare form of an extremely rare cancer. There have been only several hundred reported cases of testicular mesothelioma to date. It typically develops in men over the age of 60.
It is important to understand that testicular cancer is not the same as testicular mesothelioma. Testicular cancer is also rare, with an estimated 8,820 new cases in 2014. However, testicular cancer has a different cellular makeup than testicular mesothelioma. These two cancers also develop differently, forming tumors that are unique to each disease.
Mesothelioma develops rapidly in patients who have been diagnosed. Those with testicular mesothelioma tend to have slightly better life expectancies than patients diagnosed with other types of mesothelioma. Receiving an early diagnosis is key to living longer.
The typical survival time for pleural mesothelioma patients is somewhere around 12 months. Those with testicular mesothelioma typically survive 20 months after a diagnosis. Caught early enough, studies have reported some patients with testicular mesothelioma living years after a diagnosis.