Testicular Cancer Treatments
Treating testicular cancer may involve a single treatment or a combination of therapies, including:
- Surgery: Surgery to remove the tumor is almost always the first step in treating testicular cancer. Called a radical inguinal orchiectomy, it involves removing the entire testicle (or both testicles, if both have cancer). The penis is not affected by the surgery, and the scrotum remains intact after surgery.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses X-rays to destroy cancer cells or slow the rate of growth. Most often, the goal of radiation for testicular cancer is to kill cancer cells that have spread to lymph nodes.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer. In testicular cancer, chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink a tumor or after to make sure all cancer cells are gone. It may be given alone to treat testicular cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
- High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation: These are done to remove stem cells from the patient's or a donor's bone marrow and reinfuse them into the patient to help in the production of healthy blood cells.
Although testicular cancer rarely causes sterility, it can cause low sperm counts. Testicular cancer treatments, including surgery to remove the affected testicle, chemotherapy and radiation, can impact fertility. If you have both testicles removed, you will no longer be able to produce sperm.
Talk to your physician about your options if you want to have children in the future. You might consider sperm banking before treatment starts.
Consult a mental health professional before or after your surgery to help you cope with any issues you are experiencing. Some men may wish to have a prosthetic testicle implanted during surgery or after the initial surgery.