Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The options for treating your testicular cancer depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, your overall health, and your own preferences.

Surgery

Operations used to treat testicular cancer include:

  • Surgery to remove your testicle (radical inguinal orchiectomy) is the primary treatment for nearly all stages and types of testicular cancer. To remove your testicle, your surgeon makes an incision in your groin and extracts the entire testicle through the opening. A prosthetic, saline-filled testicle can be inserted if you choose.
  • Surgery to remove nearby lymph nodes (retroperitoneal lymph node dissection) is performed through an incision in your abdomen. Your surgeon takes care to avoid damaging nerves surrounding the lymph nodes, but in some cases harm to the nerves may be unavoidable. Damaged nerves can cause difficulty with ejaculation, but won't prevent you from having an erection.

In cases of early-stage testicular cancer, surgery may be the only treatment needed.

If surgery is your only treatment for testicular cancer, your doctor will recommend a schedule of follow-up appointments. At these appointments — typically every few months for the first few years and then less frequently after that — you'll undergo blood tests, CT scans and other procedures to check for signs that your cancer has returned.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. During radiation therapy, you're positioned on a table and a large machine moves around you, aiming the energy beams at precise points on your body.

Radiation therapy is a treatment option that's sometimes used in people who have the seminoma type of testicular cancer. Radiation therapy may be recommended after surgery to remove your testicle.

Side effects may include fatigue, as well as skin redness and irritation in your abdominal and groin areas. Radiation therapy is also likely to cause infertility. Talk to your doctor about your options for preserving your sperm before beginning radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs travel throughout your body to kill cancer cells that may have migrated from the original tumor.

Chemotherapy may be your only treatment, or it may be recommended before or after lymph node removal surgery.

Side effects of chemotherapy depend on the drugs being used. Ask your doctor what to expect. Common side effects include fatigue, nausea, hair loss and an increased risk of infection. There are medications and treatments available that reduce some of the side effects of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is also likely to cause infertility, which can be permanent. Talk to your doctor about your options for preserving your sperm before beginning chemotherapy.

Nov. 06, 2014

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