After surgery for testicular cancer

Your recovery depends on the type of surgery you have. And your general health. 

After surgery to remove the testicle, most men can go back to normal activities after 2 weeks. But removing lymph nodes from the stomach (abdomen) is a major operation. Your hospital stay and recovery time will be longer. 

After removing a testicle (orchidectomy)

When you wake up

You wake up in the recovery area next to the operating theatres.

At first you’ll be wearing a mask or have small tubes into your nose (nasal cannulae) to give you oxygen. You might feel dizzy and sluggish to begin with.

You have a blood pressure cuff on your arm and a little clip on your finger to measure your pulse and oxygen level.

Once you are more awake, your nurse will take you back to the ward. They will measure your blood pressure and check your dressings regularly.

Pain

Your groin and scrotum may be uncomfortable for a week or so. You might need to take mild painkillers.

Your wound

You have a few stitches in your groin. You have an appointment for the nurse to remove your stitches after about a week.

Going home

You can usually go home later that day but might need to stay in hospital overnight.

Making progress

Most men can go back to normal activities, including work, after 2 weeks. But you might need to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for a month. 

Sex and having children (fertility)

Having one testicle removed won’t affect your ability to get an erection. For most men it won’t affect your ability to have children (fertility). But for some men, the remaining testicle might not work so well. This could reduce your fertility.

After removing lymph nodes (retroperitoneal lymph node dissection)

When you come round after the operation you might be in a high dependency unit (HDU) or intensive care unit (ICU). Your nurses will monitor you closely. This is usually only for one night before you move back to your ward. 

You will probably have several tubes in place:

  • a drip (intravenous infusion) to give you liquids
  • tubes (called drains) to stop fluid collecting around the operation site
  • a catheter to drain your bladder
  • a tube going down your nose and into your stomach, to drain fluid and stop you feeling sick

You may also have:

  • a blood pressure cuff on your arm
  • a clip on your finger to measure your pulse
  • a pump containing painkillers going into your drip
  • a hand controlled pump to give yourself extra painkillers

The nurses take out your drip when you can eat and drink again. Your tubes (drains) are removed over the next few days. Your catheter comes out when you can pass urine normally.

Your wound

Your wound will be sore or painful at first but your nurse will give you painkillers. After a couple of days you can usually start to move around. You will be able to go home after about 7 to 10 days.

It can take a few weeks for the wound to fully heal. And you will need to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for at least 6 weeks.

Infertility

Removing the lymph glands from the abdomen can make some men unable to father children (infertile). It is sometimes possible to do an operation called a nerve sparing lymph node dissection to try to stop this happening. This is a highly specialised operation and you might need to travel to a specialist hospital to have it. It is not always possible to do if there is cancer close to the nerve pathways. Leaving the nerves behind could increase the risk of the cancer coming back.

After removing secondary cancer in the lungs

You have several tubes in place when you come round after the operation. You may have:

  • a drip (intravenous infusion) to give you liquids
  • tubes (called drains) to stop fluid collecting around the operation site
  • a catheter to drain your bladder

You may also have:

  • a blood pressure cuff on your arm
  • a clip on your finger to measure your pulse
  • a pump containing painkillers going into your drip
  • a hand controlled pump to give yourself extra painkillers

Your nurse takes your drip out when you can eat and drink again. Your tubes (drains) are removed over the next few days. Your catheter comes out when you can pass urine normally. 

Chest drain

You have a tube into your chest for a few days. The tube connects to a suction bottle. It is there to help your lung expand (inflate) again. Surgery to the chest always makes the lung collapse but it can be expanded (reinflated) over a couple of days.

Painkillers

You will have painkillers for some days after the operation. The surgery may involve cutting through a couple of ribs and this can be painful while it heals.

Last reviewed: 
22 Jul 2020
  • Testicular seminoma and non-seminoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    J Olednberg and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2013. Volume 24, Supplement 6, pages 125 - 132

  • EAU Guidelines on Testicular Cancer
    MP Laguna and others
    European Association of Urology 2021

  • Guidelines on Male Infertility
    P Alber and others
    European Association of Urology, 2016

     

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