Monitoring testicular cancer
This page is about monitoring (surveillance) for testicular cancer. There is information about
Monitoring for testicular cancer
After removal of a testicle for early testicular cancer (stage 1 cancer) many men need no further treatment because the risk of the cancer coming back is low. But because there is still a risk that the cancer will come back your doctor will recommend that you have monitoring (surveillance).
Monitoring looks for any signs of the cancer coming back so that it can be found and treated early.
What monitoring is
You have regular appointments with your doctor. At the appointments you may have a physical examination, blood tests for testicular cancer proteins (markers), and sometimes chest X-rays and CT scans.
If the cancer comes back
If the level of markers in your blood goes up or if scans show that the cancer has come back you have chemotherapy treatment. There is still a very high chance of curing the cancer.
How you might feel
Some people find it very stressful to go for their appointments but it is very important to find the cancer early if it does come back. It can help to talk this through with your doctor or specialist nurse. You can also do all you can to have a healthy lifestyle.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating testicular cancer section.
After removal of a testicle for early testicular cancer (stage 1 cancer) many men need no further treatment because the risk of the cancer coming back is low. Depending on the type of cancer and other factors the chance of the cancer coming back may be as low as 13 out of 100 (13%). For other men it may be as high as 50 out of 100 (50%). Your doctor can tell you the risk in your individual case. Because there is a risk that the cancer will come back your doctor will recommend that you have monitoring (surveillance).
Monitoring looks for any signs of the cancer coming back so that it is found and treated early. Treatment can cure most men even if the cancer comes back.
The TRISST trial is looking at the best way of using scans to monitor testicular cancer. The trial has closed and we are waiting for the results.
You have regular appointments with your doctor. The appointments are usually every month or two for non seminoma, and every few months for seminoma. At the appointments your doctor will do a physical examination, check your other testicle, and ask you how you feel.
The appointments are a chance to tell your doctor if you are having problems with any new or ongoing symptoms. You can also tell them if you have any emotional or sexual effects from the cancer. Then your doctor can give you the best care and support.
It is very important to go to your surveillance appointments. If the cancer does come back it will be found when it’s small and can be cured by treatment. Over time, the risk of the cancer coming back goes down and you will have the appointments and tests less often. But the monitoring usually carries on for at least 5 years.
Some people find it very stressful to know that they need monitoring in case the cancer comes back. It can help to know that even if the cancer does come back the treatment is very likely to cure it. You can talk this through with your doctor or specialist nurse. They can reassure you and explain how often you will have checks and about the treatment if the cancer does come back.
During monitoring, there are some things you can do to help you feel you are doing something positive and also keep you healthy. You can
- Eat a healthy diet
- Try to learn to relax
- Try to stop smoking
- Take notice of any new symptoms and report them to your doctor
A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables and fish, and low in animal fats, is better for your health, including being good for your heart.
There is currently no evidence linking stress to cancer. But monitoring can be a stressful situation for some people and relaxation will help you feel better and possibly cope better too. You could find a new hobby or try relaxation techniques.
Stopping smoking and making changes like these to your lifestyle can help you to feel more in control of your situation.
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