Testicular cancer is a disease of the male reproductive system that involves the testicles or testes. These are two egg shaped organs that reside in the scrotal sac which hangs outside the body and behind the penis. The testicles are responsible for producing hormones, normally testosterone and also sperm.
Testicular cancer is most common in men between 15 and 34 years of age. Although it is a rare cancer it is also the cancer that is most common in men in that age range. These cancers can produce several different types of cells which will have a different prognosis.
For instance, once the tumor is removed the surgeon will send it to pathologist who will evaluate the type of tumor and cell type. The pathologist will evaluate the cell differentiation and type which will give the oncologist very good clues about treatment options that should be pursued.
Since there isn’t just one cell type that causes testicular cancer, the symptoms and signs of the disease can also be different. For instance some men may notice a lump or heaviness on one side of the scrotum while others may experience enlarged breasts – called gynecomastia.
Many of the testicular cancers will secrete hormones such as human chorionic gonadatropin (HCG) or alpha-fetoprotein. Some also secrete an enzyme, LDH. By evaluating blood work and combining this information with the pathology report, the oncologist can more easily determine the type of testicular cancer growing.
One of the interesting factors involved in testicular cancer is the secretion of hormones by the cancer cells that are considered to be estrogenic, or female in nature. This is why some men may experience the enlarged breasts. Tumors which secrete these estrogenic hormones are also affected by the addition of estrogen to the body. The estrogen encourages these tumors to grow at a faster rate.
Recently research has found that two common herbs found in toiletries and personal care products can mimic the effect of estrogen in the body. These herbs are lavender and tea tree oil. The effect of using these in daily products can alter the fertility in women and encourage the growth of testicular cancer in men.
While tea tree oil has some excellent uses in cleaning and personal care products, use of it daily can affect the health of young growing males. Researchers haven’t found any negative effects from use in cleaning products or the occasional product for bee stings or mosquitoes but use in shampoos, deodorants and toothpaste can load the male system with estrogen products that will affect a potential testicular cancer growth.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Tea Tree Oil
NYU Langone Medical Center: Male Infertility
Winchester Hospital: Male Infertility
Alternative Healing Academy: The Testicular Cancer Risks of Tea Tree Oil in Growing Males