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Treatment

Treatment depends on the patient's overall health, the type of testicular cancer, and its stage, a measure of how far the cancer has spread. The stages of testicular cancer are

  • Stage I. Cancer is found only in the testicle.

  • Stage II. Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes in the abdomen or pelvis.

  • Stage III. Cancer has spread to the lungs, brain, liver, or other parts of the body. Or, cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and levels of tumor-marker proteins in the blood are quite high.

  • Recurrent. Cancer has returned after treatment.

The treatment for most types and stages of testicular cancer is to remove the testicle. During this procedure, the surgeon removes the testicle through an incision in the groin. Both before the surgery and a few weeks afterward, blood tests will be done to measure levels of tumor markers. Some men will need additional surgery to see whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen or pelvis.

After surgery, the treatment of testicular cancer depends on the cancer's stage. Some men will need only regular monitoring. However, most men will need additional treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy. Radiation can be directed at the lymph nodes to destroy any bits of cancer that can't be seen. Chemotherapy is used when cancer has spread beyond the testicle. It can also help keep the cancer from coming back.

In general, patients with seminomas often receive radiation therapy. Radiation therapy doesn't work as well in patients with non-seminomas. Instead, they tend to undergo surgery and chemotherapy.

After treatment, regular follow-up exams are critical to make certain that the cancer is gone. For the first two years, a man is examined every one to two months. Blood tests, x-rays and CT scans are also done. After that, physical exams and blood tests are done a little less often, with x-rays happening only once or twice a year.

Review your treatment options with an expert in the treatment of testicular cancer. Make sure you understand all of the choices before making a treatment decision.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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