How to Treat Testicular Cancer
Being diagnosed with testicular cancer can be devastating, but understanding your options regarding how to treat testicular cancer will reassure you, give you a sense of control and make you a better, well-informed patient. The diagnosis of testicular cancer has been increasing in many countries in recent years, including the United States. However, with a man's lifetime chance of developing this disease being one in 300, this is still not a very common type of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, treatment is usually successful, with the risk of death from testicular cancer being only one in 5,000.
- Surgery may be used to treat testicular cancer. The extent of the surgery will depend upon the stage of cancer, an indication of how far the disease has spread and developed. Generally, the affected testicle will be removed from the scrotum. Sometimes, lymph nodes in the abdomen may also be removed.
- Radiation therapy is often used to treat testicular cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. This painless treatment kills cancer cells and generally lasts only a few minutes per session. It is sometimes used following surgery to kill any possible undiagnosed cancer cells remaining in the lymph nodes.
- Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat testicular cancer; these can either be given as injections or in pill form. Chemotherapy normally occurs in cycles with a rest period in between treatments. There are more than half a dozen commonly used chemotherapy drugs which are often used in various combinations. Depending on the individual case, high-dose chemotherapy or a stem cell transplant may be recommended.
- Clinical trials may be an option to treat testicular cancer in some patients. Much will depend upon whether your doctor or hospital is currently involved in any appropriate clinical trials. If you choose to participate in a clinical trial, there will be specific requirements you must meet to qualify, which will vary from one trial to the next.
- Alternative therapies might be a way to treat testicular cancer, but most doctors will not recommend such methods for several reasons. Most importantly, many such treatments do not have significant scientific studies to ensure their effectiveness and safety. Second, in spending time on alternative treatments, you may miss the opportunity for safe and effective treatment via traditional methods. Extensive discussion with your doctor is recommended prior to beginning any alternative therapy for testicular cancer.
- Your stage of cancer upon diagnosis may affect your options regarding how to treat testicular cancer. Stage I cancer will generally be treated through surgery to remove the testicle and may then be followed up by radiation, chemotherapy, observation or a combination of these methods depending upon the specific case. Stage II is usually treated through surgery followed by radiation or chemotherapy. Stage III cancer will be treated with surgery, several rounds of chemotherapy and possibly a stem cell transplant. Treatment will vary by individual.