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
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
Treatment begins with surgery (orchiectomy) to remove the affected testicle. After surgery, depending on which type of cancer cells are
present and whether your cancer has spread to other areas of your body (stage), you may need only surveillance. Or you may need further treatment.
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.
Seminomas are the kind of testicular cancer that grow and spread slowly. After surgery, treatments may include:
For seminomas that are more advanced (stage II or stage III cancers), treatments begin with surgery (orchiectomy) and may include radiation, chemotherapy, or combination chemotherapy. After chemotherapy, tissue masses that remain may need to be removed with surgery.
Nonseminomas are the kind of testicular cancer that grow and spread more quickly than seminomas. They don't respond well to radiation therapy. After surgery, treatments may include:
For nonseminomas that are more advanced (stage II or stage III cancers), treatments begin with surgery (orchiectomy) and may include surgery to remove lymph nodes, chemotherapy, or combination chemotherapy. After chemotherapy, any tissue masses that remain will be removed with surgery, if possible.
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.
- Testicular Cancer: Which Treatment Should I Have for Stage I Seminoma Testicular Cancer After My Surgery?
- Testicular Cancer: Which Treatment Should I Have for Stage I Nonseminoma Testicular Cancer After My Surgery?
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
- Physical exams.
- Imaging tests,
CT scans, and
- 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 tumor marker 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. Chemotherapy may be followed by surgery to remove any remaining cancer.
Cancer treatment has two main goals: curing cancer and making your quality of life as good as possible. Palliative care 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 can almost always be cured, even if it comes back (recurrent) or has spread (metastasized). But if you do have cancer that can't be cured, a time may come 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 hospice care.
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.