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Once testicular cancer has been diagnosed and staged, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments.
Certain treatments for testicular cancer may cause infertility. If you wish to have children, discuss it with your doctor before starting treatment.
Surgery may be performed to remove your affected testicle. This procedure, known as a radical inguinal orchiectomy, is used to both diagnose and treat testicular cancer. Additional surgery may be performed to remove lymph nodes behind the abdomen, either laparoscopically (using narrow tubes inserted through small incisions) or through traditional open surgery. Tumors that have spread to other places in your body may also be surgically removed.
If your doctor recommends removing either one or both testicles and you wish to have children, you may want to consider storing sperm in a sperm bank prior to surgery if possible.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be recommended in combination with other treatment methods, such as after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be given orally (pill form), via injection, or through an IV line. The drugs enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body to destroy cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is often used to treat testicular cancer when it has spread outside the testicle, or to decrease the risk of cancer coming back after the testicle is removed. It is not used to treat cancer that is only in the testicle.
You may receive your chemo treatments at the hospital, in your doctor’s office or, if oral therapy is prescribed, at home. Chemotherapy is usually administered in cycles, with each period of treatment followed by a period of rest. If chemotherapy is part of your treatment plan, your care team will discuss the medications, any side effects and the way in which you will take the medication.
Radiation therapy uses a beam of high-energy X-rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells in a targeted area. For testicular cancer, radiation is used primarily to kill cancer cells that have spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen, often on the same side as the testicle where the cancer started.
The radiation is delivered by a carefully focused beam from a machine outside the body. This is called external beam radiation. Because radiation therapy can cause problems with sperm production, special protective devices may be placed over the remaining testicle to help preserve fertility. Generally, lower radiation doses are used to treat testicular cancer compared to those needed for other types of cancer.
Radiation therapy usually consists of a specific number of treatments given over a set period of time.
High-Dose Chemotherapy with Stem Cell Transplant
While testicular cancers typically respond well to chemo, in some cases higher doses of chemotherapy drugs might work better. However, high-dose chemotherapy can damage the body’s bone marrow, where new blood cells are made, leading to life-threatening problems.
A stem cell transplant allows doctors to use these higher doses of chemo and then replace blood-forming cells that are destroyed by the treatment. A special machine is used to remove these blood-forming cells—known as stem cells—from your bloodstream or bone marrow, or from a donor. The stem cells are then frozen and stored while you receive the high-dose chemotherapy drugs. After treatment, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to you through an infusion to help produce healthy blood cells.
This complex treatment is typically reserved for testicular cancer that has come back after regular chemo. It requires an experienced healthcare team, such as the specialists at the Methodist Cancer Center and the Methodist Center for Cell and Gene Therapy.
Learn more about testicular cancer:
- About Testicular Cancer
- Diagnosing Testicular Cancer
- Testicular Cancer Resources
- Testicular Cancer Clinical Trials
- Our Testicular Cancer Specialists and Staff
For more information about testicular cancer treatment at the Methodist Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call us at 713-790-2700.