Testicular Cancer: Treatment Choices
There are various treatment choices for testicular cancer. Which may work best for you? It depends on a number of factors. These include the type, location, and stage of your cancer. Factors also include your age, overall health, and what side effects you’ll find acceptable.
Learning about your treatment options
You may have questions and concerns about your treatment options. You may also want to know how you’ll feel and function after treatment, and if you’ll have to change your normal activities.
Your doctor is the best person to answer your questions. He or she can tell you what your treatment choices are, how successful they’re expected to be, and what the risks and side effects are. Your healthcare provider may advise a specific treatment. Or he or she may offer more than one, and ask you to decide which one you’d like to use. It can be hard to make this decision. It is important to take the time you need to make the best decision.
Deciding on the best plan may take some time. Talk with your healthcare provider about how much time you can take to explore your options. You may want to get another opinion before deciding on your treatment plan. In fact, some insurance companies may require a second opinion. In addition, you may want to involve your family and friends in this process.
Understanding the goals of treatment for testicular cancer
For most testicular cancers, the goal of treatment is to cure the cancer. If cure is not possible, treatment may be used to shrink the cancer or keep it under control for as long as possible. Treatment can also improve your quality of life by helping to control the symptoms of the disease. The goals of testicular cancer treatment can include one or more of these things:
Remove the cancer in the testicle
Remove or destroy tumors in other parts of the body
Kill or stop the growth or spread of testicular cancer cells
Prevent or delay the cancer's return
Ease symptoms from the cancer, such as pain or pressure on organs
Types of treatment for testicular cancer
Several types of treatment can be used for testicular cancer. Different combinations of treatment may be used, depending on the extent (stage) of the cancer and other factors. Each treatment has its own goals. Here is an overview of each type of treatment:
Surgery. This is nearly always the first treatment for testicular cancer. The goal of this treatment is to remove the entire tumor along with the testicle. Sometimes lymph nodes in the lower abdomen are removed as well. Depending on the stage of the cancer, surgery may be all that's needed. Or surgery may be followed by other treatments.
Chemotherapy. The goal of chemotherapy is to kill any remaining cancer cells in the body to help keep the cancer from coming back. When used after surgery, this is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy. The goal of radiation therapy is to kill cancer cells. When it's used after surgery, it is called adjuvant radiation therapy. Then the goal is to reduce the chance that the cancer will come back.
Clinical trials for new treatments
Researchers are always looking for new ways to treat testicular cancer. These new methods are tested in clinical trials. Talk with your doctor to find out if there are any clinical trials you should consider.
Talking with your doctor
At first, thinking about treatment options may seem overwhelming. Talk with your doctors, nurses, and loved ones. Make a list of questions. Consider the benefits and possible side effects of each option. Discuss your concerns with your doctor before making a decision.
March 21, 2017
Alteri, Richard, MD,MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician