Find out about the latest UK research into testicular cancer.
All cancer treatments have to be fully researched before they can be used for everyone. This is so we can be sure that:
- they work
- they work better than the treatments already available
- they are known to be safe
The latest research into causes, prevention and treatment for testicular cancer is outlined below.
Cancers develop from damaged genes inside body cells. In testicular cancer the gene damage might happen at a young age, even when inside the womb. Some lifestyle and environment factors might increase the risk of testicular cancer. Researchers continue to investigate what these factors might be.
Changes in the following chromosomes can increase the risk of developing testicular cancer:
• chromosome 12
• chromosome 5
• chromosome 6
• chromosome 9
Researchers are continuing to study these chromosomes and others to help understand more about testicular cancer and its development. And to find out if they can be used to predict how well treatment works.
They are also looking at the family history of men with testicular cancer to find:
• more about the causes of testicular cancer
• more about what genes are involved
• how important gene changes are in the development of testicular cancer
Teratomas (non seminomas)
Researchers are looking at ways to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. Standard treatment for stages 2 to 3 teratoma is bleomycin, etoposide and cisplatin. This is BEP chemotherapy.
Researchers have looked at different ways of giving BEP to:
- reduce the possible side effects
- see if it could be given over a shorter period of time
- see if the number of cycles could be reduced
Researchers have also looked at adding other chemotherapy drugs to BEP. They found that adding:
- carboplatin and vincristine to BEP might be better for men with a poor outlook germ cell cancer
- paclitaxel might be better for men with intermediate outlook germ cell cancer
Researchers have looked at using high dose carboplatin. This was for men whose cancer had spread to the lung. They wanted to find:
- if it worked as well as BEP
- what the side effects were
Researchers have also compared:
- PET-CT scans
- CT scans
- MRI scans
They wanted to know which was better at helping doctors assess the response of the cancer.
Sometimes standard treatment isn’t successful. Or there is a high risk that testicular cancer may come back again. In these cases researchers are looking at different approaches including:
- high dose chemotherapy followed by a transplant using a man's own stem cells
- different combinations of chemotherapy
Researchers are looking at ways to improve the quality of life of men with testicular cancer. They have looked at how to reduce side effects by:
- giving shorter courses of chemotherapy
- giving different combinations of chemotherapy
Researchers are also looking at counselling and other psychological support to find out whether they can help people cope with a cancer diagnosis.
It is very important after treatment that doctors can montior men to make sure the cancer has not come back. Studies have been done to find out why men might miss their follow up appointments. This could help doctors adapt treatment and follow up to suit individuals. These measures could improve a man's quality of life.