Most testicular cancers are either seminomas or nonseminomas. The main difference between the two is that seminomas grow and spread slowly and respond to radiation therapy. Nonseminomas grow and spread more quickly than seminomas. They don't respond to radiation.
If you are diagnosed with testicular cancer, your doctor will explain what type of cancer you have, whether it has spread beyond the testicle (metastasized), and the potential for curing it. You and your doctor will discuss your treatment options and possible outcomes of those treatments. Testicular cancer is highly curable, especially when it's diagnosed at an early stage.
If the cancer isn't treated during its early stages, it may spread (metastasize) to the lymph nodes and to the lungs, liver, brain, and bones. But often testicular cancer that has spread can still be treated successfully.
Some cancer treatments raise your risk of infertility. Unless you are sure you won't want to father a child in the future, talk to your doctor about sperm banking before any treatment for testicular cancer.
Treatment begins with a Reference radical inguinal orchiectomy (say "IN-gwuh-nul or-kee-EK-tuh-mee"), which is surgery to remove the affected testicle(s).
Treatment after surgery
After surgery, depending on which type of cancer cells are present and whether your cancer has spread to other areas of your body (Reference stage), you may need only Reference watchful waiting Opens New Window. Or you may need further treatment with Reference chemotherapy Opens New Window, Reference radiation therapy Opens New Window, or surgery to remove lymph nodes.
If your cancer was found early, you may have a choice about further treatment. Talk with your doctor about the risks and possible side effects of each treatment option.
- Opens New Window Testicular Cancer: Which Treatment Should I Have for Stage I Seminoma Testicular Cancer After My Surgery? Opens New Window
- Opens New Window Testicular Cancer: Which Treatment Should I Have for Stage I Nonseminoma Testicular Cancer After My Surgery? Opens New Window
After treatment, it is important to receive follow-up care. This care may lead to early identification and management of cancer that comes back. Your regular follow-up program may include:
- Physical exams.
- Imaging tests, including Reference X-rays Opens New Window, Reference CT scans Opens New Window, and Reference MRIs Opens New Window.
- Blood tests to check tumor marker levels. Stable or increasing tumor marker levels after treatment may mean that your cancer is still present or has returned. You may need more treatment.
A diagnosis of testicular cancer means that you will be seeing your doctor regularly for years to come. It's a good idea to build a relationship based on trust and the sharing of information. Your doctor may give you some advice on changes to make in your life to help treatment succeed.
Cancer that has come back
Testicular cancer that has come back (recurred) may be found during a physical exam, through an imaging test, or as a result of increasing Reference tumor marker Opens New Window levels. In some cases, recurrent cancer can be successfully treated. This is especially true if the cancer has spread only to the lymph nodes in the pelvis, belly, or lower back and pelvis.
Recurrent testicular cancer may be treated with chemotherapy, surgery to remove lymph nodes, or radiation. Sometimes high doses of chemotherapy are needed. If these treatments don't work, then high-dose chemotherapy with Reference stem cell transplant may be tried.
In many cases of recurrent testicular cancer, chemotherapy is followed by surgery. The surgery can remove any remaining cancer as well as tissue damaged by chemotherapy.
Cancer treatment has two main goals: curing cancer and making your quality of life as good as possible. Reference Palliative care Opens New Window can improve your quality of life by helping you manage your symptoms. It can also help you with other concerns that you may have when you are living with a serious illness.
Testicular cancer has a very good cure rate. But for some people, a time comes when treatment to cure cancer no longer seems like a good choice. This can be because the side effects, time, and costs of treatment are greater than the promise of cure or relief. But this isn't the end of treatment. You and your doctor can decide when you may be ready for Reference hospice care Opens New Window.
It can be hard to decide when to stop treatment aimed at prolonging your life and shift the focus to end-of-life care.
For more information about types of care, see:
Additional information about testicular cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/testicular.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology