Cancer of the testicle (also called testicular cancer or testes/testis cancer) is the most common cancer in men 15 to 35 years old. If you have been diagnosed with testicular cancer, you want to know your treatment options and how cancer or treatment may affect your sexual health.
Testicular cancer treatment may affect reproductive decisions many years into the future. We’ll take time to discuss your risk of lost fertility and options such as sperm banking for fertility preservation.
Testicular Cancer: Why Choose Vanderbilt-Ingram?
When you come to Vanderbilt-Ingram, you will find:
- Patient-centered care: Our testicular cancer team works together to tailor a treatment plan that meets your needs. We provide sophisticated treatments, including nerve-sparing surgeries. Our goal is to destroy the cancer while ensuring you have a high quality of life.
- Experience: Our oncology team provides comprehensive care for patients with testicular cancer, including those with complex, advanced cancers. Whether you need surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or another treatment option, we have the skills and experience to develop a course of action that is customized to your needs. Patients often come to us for a second opinion on their diagnosis or treatment plan because of our extensive experience in cancer care.
- Convenience: All of our specialists are in one convenient location, saving you time and energy so you can focus on getting better.
- Collaboration: Our team of urological surgeons, urologists, oncologists and radiation oncologists combine their expertise to create personalized treatment plans for each patient. At our regular tumor boards (cancer care meetings), our testicular cancer experts discuss complex cases individually. Together, some of the nation’s leading cancer experts across medical disciplines collaborate on choosing a treatment plan.
- Compassion and sensitivity: Having testicular cancer affects you emotionally as well as physically. We offer comprehensive support services, including support groups, an integrative healing center and a unique survivorship program.
Diagnosing Testicular Cancer
Men who have an undescended testicle (a testicle that has never moved down into the scrotum) are at higher risk for testicular cancer, even after surgery to correct the defect. If you have an undescended testicle, talk to your doctor about screening or monitoring procedures.
Your doctor will begin the diagnosis by asking you about your symptoms and medical history. Be sure to share any symptoms with your doctor, even if they seem minor or embarrassing. After a physical exam, your doctor may order other tests, including:
- Ultrasound: This is a painless imaging scan. We move a transducer (wand) over the testicles to produce detailed images of the testicles.
- Blood test: A quick blood test gives us information about levels of certain proteins in your blood, which may indicate cancer.
- Imaging scans: In addition to an ultrasound, we may use other noninvasive scans to detect cancer, including computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET).
- Biopsy: We take a small tissue sample from the testicle to examine under a microscope. This test can confirm a cancer diagnosis. We will give you sedation and an anesthetic before the biopsy so you are comfortable.
Testicular Cancer Treatment Options
We create a treatment plan that considers the stage of the disease (how advanced it is), your age and overall health. Treatment may include:
- Surgery: Surgery is often the first – and most effective – treatment option for testicular cancer. Testis cancer is highly treatable, and removing one or both testicles can produce excellent outcomes. Vanderbilt’s surgical urologists and oncologists are experienced in these delicate and complex procedures. Their goal is to destroy the cancer and provide a high quality of life after the surgery. Procedures include:
- Radical inguinal orchiectomy: This surgery removes one or both testicles through an incision in the groin. Our experienced urologic surgeons have vast experience using this procedure to remove the tumor and ensure that the cancer doesn’t spread.
- Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND): Vanderbilt surgeons have performed more than 100 of this specialized type of surgery, which removes lymph nodes near the testicles. RPLND is a sophisticated operation that requires surgeons and hospital staff who perform a high volume of this procedure. It is typically performed only at major cancer centers such as Vanderbilt. Our surgeons have the technical skill and experience to perform this procedure and help you maintain an excellent quality of life.
- Radiation therapy: Your doctor may suggest external radiation therapy, which delivers a high dose of radiation directly to the tumor. We use the most advanced radiation techniques available that offer a high level of precision, so we target only the tumor and not the nearby healthy tissues. This method often results in fewer side effects for you.
- Chemotherapy: Powerful medicines that you take through an injection can destroy testicular cancer cells. We offer chemotherapy services at multiple infusion centers, so you can get care at the location that’s closest to you.
- Immunotherapy: We are at the forefront of advances in immunotherapy, which activate the body’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy can be an effective treatment with fewer side effects than other cancer treatments.
Comprehensive Post-Treatment Support
Cancer affects all aspects of your life, and it affects you even after treatments are completed. We offer robust support services
– including a survivorship
program and an integrative care center – to help you during treatment and in your life after treatment.