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Types of treatment for testicular cancer

Men and woman discussing testicular cancer

This page is about treatments for testicular cancer. There is information on

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Types of treatment for testicular cancer

Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are all used to treat cancer of the testicles. You may have just one treatment or a combination. The doctor plans your treatment by taking into account the type of testicular cancer, and whether it has spread beyond the testicle. Most men are completely cured, even if the cancer has spread.

Sperm banking before treatment

Some treatments for testicular cancer, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, can lower your ability to father a child. Before starting any treatment your doctor will offer you the chance to store sperm.  

Treatment by stage

All testicular cancers are treated with surgery. Most men have the whole testicle removed (orchidectomy).

Stage 1

If the cancer is completely contained within the testicle, you may have removal of your testicle, followed by monitoring (surveillance). If you have a non seminoma cancer (teratoma) that has a high risk of coming back you may also have chemotherapy.

Stage 2

If a seminoma has spread into nearby lymph nodes you may have radiotherapy after removal of the testicle. If any of the lymph nodes are larger than 2cm you might have chemotherapy instead of radiotherapy. 

If a non seminoma tumour (teratoma) has spread into the lymph glands, you will have chemotherapy after removal of the testicle.

Stage 3

If the cancer has spread beyond the testicle and the nearby lymph glands, you will have chemotherapy after removal of the testicle. After chemotherapy has finished for non seminoma, if you still have areas of cancer in the lymph nodes at the back of the abdomen or in the lungs you will have surgery to remove them. If you have seminoma you will need no further treatment but your doctor will monitor you closely.

Testicular cancer that comes back

If your cancer comes back after you have been first treated, you will probably have more chemotherapy and surgery. Even cancers that come back can usually be cured.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating testicular cancer section.

 

 

The main treatments

Doctors use surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat cancer of the testicle. You may have one or more of these. 

Your doctor plans your treatment by taking into account the type of cells the tumour is made up of (seminoma or non seminoma), and whether the cancer has spread beyond the testicle (its stage).

Seminomas and non seminoma testicular cancers are treated slightly differently. But the treatment depends mostly on the stage of your cancer.

All testicular cancers are treated with surgery. Most men have an operation to remove the affected testicle (orchidectomy). In some men with a very small tumour the surgeon may only remove part of the testicle but this is very rare.

Treatments for testicular cancer are generally very successful. Most men are completely cured even if the cancer has spread beyond the testicle when it is diagnosed.

 

Treatment by cancer stage

The type of treatment you are offered will mainly depend on the type and stage of your testicular cancer. Here is some information about treatment by stage

Stage 1

If you have very early cancer (stage 1) you will have surgery. Usually the surgeon removes the whole testicle. Your doctor will then monitor you regularly to see whether the cancer comes back. They call this surveillance.

If you have a cancer with a high risk of coming back you may also have chemotherapy. After these treatments you will have regular monitoring for a number of years.

Stage 2

If you have a stage 2A seminoma you may have radiotherapy after removal of the testicle. If you have a stage 2B seminoma you may have radiotherapy or chemotherapy

Stage 2 non seminomas (teratomas) are treated with chemotherapy after removal of the testicle.

Stage 3

If you have a stage 3 testicular cancer you will have chemotherapy after removal of the testicle. 

After chemotherapy for a non seminoma, if you still have areas of cancer cells in the lymph nodes at the back of the abdomen or in the lung that have not shrunk away completely, you will have surgery to remove them. 

If you have seminoma you will need no further treatment but your doctor will monitor you closely.

 

If the cancer comes back

Even cancers that come back can usually be cured. 

If your cancer comes back after your treatment, you will probably have more chemotherapy. Some men may have high dose chemotherapy.

If you have cancer spread to the lung (secondary lung cancer) or lymph nodes, you may have surgery to remove it. 

We have detailed information about treatment for testicular cancer that has come back.

 

Sperm banking before treatment

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments can lower your ability to father a child. So your doctor will offer you the chance to store 2 or 3 semen samples before your treatment starts. There is information about sperm banking in our living with testicular cancer section.

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Updated: 26 February 2013