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Posted on May 09th, 2020
Occupational toxic exposure has been linked to numerous types of cancer, affecting primarily the lungs and respiratory system. Given the fact that asbestos fibers can travel through the body, it may also lead to other forms of cancer such as testicular cancer seminoma.
Testicular cancer is a type of cancer affecting middle-aged and older men and in some rare cases even young boys. There are two types of testicular cancer (seminomas and nonseminomas), with the seminoma type being a slow-growing form typically found in men in their 40s and 50s. This type of cancer is located in the testes, but it is possible to spread to the lymph nodes.
Testicular cancer seminoma is relatively rare and they make up about half of all testicular tumor cases in older patients. The American Cancer Society estimates around 9.610 new cases of testicular cancer being diagnosed in 2020, in the U.S., and around 440 deaths. The rate of testicular cancer has been gradually increasing worldwide over the past decades, with the majority of them being seminomas. At the moment, experts are still trying to find out more information regarding the risk factors for developing this type of cancer, but there are some studies that link it with toxic exposure.
The risk factors for developing testicular cancer seminoma appear to be both individual and environmental. Although it's not as common as in the case of lung diseases, asbestos exposure can also be linked to the development of testicular cancer seminomas. Asbestos is known to attach itself to the lining of organs and is capable of traveling through the body, ultimately being capable of affecting various parts.
Another risk factor that has been recently linked to the development of testicular cancer is the exposure to PFAS chemicals though AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam). Some experts suspect that exposure to PFAS chemicals of children still in the womb could be the reason why testicular cancer affects young adults. There is a high chance that occupational exposure to these chemicals through AFFF as well as toxic agents such as asbestos might significantly raise the risk. Some of the occupations at high risk are:
Testicular cancer seminoma might not provoke any symptoms until a more advanced stage. There might just be a painless mass in the testes. But if symptoms do appear they might include:
If the cancer has spread outside of the testicles, symptoms can appear in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, abdomen, pelvis, or back. It's extremely important that people with a history of toxic exposure regularly check up on the state of their health. Usually, in order to diagnose testicular cancer, patients need to undergo a series of tests such as blood analysis or an ultrasound. A very important next step is to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Usually, by stage II, cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen, and in stage III, cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes to other organs such as the lungs or even the brain.
Testicular cancer generally has a good prognosis if discovered in the early stages. If the disease is left untreated it will progress over time, leading to large local tumors and spread to other organs. Data from The International Germ Cell Cancer Collaborative Group attests that 90% of seminomas present a 5-year survival rate of 86% and 10% present a survival rate of 73%. This is because seminoma is a radio-sensitive tumor that if treated appropriately in stage I, can have cure rates of nearly 100%.
Those who have a history of asbestos exposure need to also undergo asbestos screening in order to establish if asbestos fibers are also present in the lungs, as this could help prove a link between testicular cancer and occupational exposure and could help meet the eligibility criteria to qualify for compensation.
In some rare cases, patients have developed testicular mesothelioma which is caused by a mutation of mesothelial cells. Although there is a lack of significant research regarding this disease at the moment, asbestos exposure has been associated with it considering that around 35% of all patients suffering from testicular mesothelioma have had a history of asbestos exposure.
Patients with testicular mesothelioma usually have a short life expectancy of approximately 20 months after receiving their diagnosis. Despite this, testicular mesothelioma does have a slightly better prognosis than mesothelioma developing in the chest or abdomen. Although rare, testicular mesothelioma accounts for approximately 5% of all mesothelioma cases. Unlike pleural mesothelioma, which can be linked to asbestos exposure, it is not yet clear how asbestos exposure can cause a primary tumor to develop in the pouch of the serous membrane that covers the testes.
Patients suffering from this type of cancer have a significantly better prognosis than those affected by other types of mesothelioma. There are no specific symptoms that can help detect testicular mesothelioma, which is why many people with this cancer initially receive the wrong diagnosis, doctors mistaking it for a more common condition such as a hernia. Because it is so rare testicular mesothelioma is often diagnosed during or after surgery.