Types of surgery

Removing the testicle is usually the first treatment for testicular cancer. Your surgeon usually removes the whole testicle. The operation is called an orchidectomy or orchiectomy. This is also used to diagnose the cancer.

Your doctor can put a false testicle in place of the missing one so it looks the same afterwards. This is called a prosthesis.

In some men with very small tumours the surgeon removes only part of the testicle but this is very rare. It is called a partial orchidectomy.

Having a testicle removed might reduce your chances of fathering children. Talk to your doctor if having children is important. They might suggest sperm banking before having surgery.

What to expect

You have the operation under either:

  • a general anaesthetic (where you are unconscious) or
  • a spinal anaesthetic (where you are awake but can't feel anything from the waist down)

The operation normally takes about 30 minutes.

The surgeon makes a cut in the groin and cuts the spermatic cord to remove the testicle. They might also remove nearby lymph nodes and a small gland called the seminal vesicle.

Diagram showing the testicle being removed (orchidectomy)

The surgeon sends the removed testicle to the laboratory for examination under a microscope. It takes a few days to get the results.

Removing lymph nodes (retroperitoneal lymph node dissection)

Lymph nodes form a network of glands throughout your body. Cancer can spread to the lymph nodes and make them bigger (enlarge). In testicular cancer this happens to the lymph nodes in the tummy (abdomen).

After chemotherapy or radiotherapy for non seminoma cancer you might have an operation. This is to remove any remaining large nodes in your tummy. The operation is a retroperitoneal lymph node dissection.

What to expect

You have this surgery under general anaesthetic. It can take between 3 and 7 hours. You may need to stop eating and drinking for a few hours beforehand. You may have a drip.

Diagram showing the pelvic and para aortic lymph nodes

More rarely, you might have surgery to remove lymph nodes in your chest. This operation is called a para aortic lymph node dissection.

Removing secondary cancer in the lungs

If testicular cancer has spread to your lung you might have surgery to remove it.

Diagram showing testicular cancer that has spread to the lungs
Your specialist may suggest this if:
  • there is still a sign of cancer after chemotherapy
  • the cancer is thought to be resistant to chemotherapy

    What to expect

    This is major surgery that you have under general anaesthetic. You have a drip into your vein and tubes coming out from your wound.

    Surgery to the chest always makes the lung collapse. You have a tube into your chest for a few days. The tube connects to a suction bottle. It helps your lung expand (inflate) again.

    The surgery might involve cutting through some ribs. This can be painful while it heals.

    This surgery can be done more than once if the tumours grow back again. This will depend on how fit you are and how much treatment you want to have.

    Last reviewed: 
    22 Jul 2020
    • Testicular seminoma and non seminoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up
      J Oldenburg and others
      Annals of Oncology, 2013, 24 (supplement 6 ): vi125-vi132

    • EAU Guidelines on Testicular Cancer

      P Albers and others

      European Association of Urology 2016

    • Advances in the treatment of testicular cancer​

      Y Erlich and others

      Translational Andrology and Urology, 20158, June, 4 (3), pages 381-390

    • Cancer and its Management (7th edition)

      J Tobias and D Hochhauser

      Wiley Blackwell 2015

    • Cancer Prinicples & Practice of Oncology (10th edition)

      V T DeVita Jr, T S Lawrence and S A Rosenberg

      Wolters Kluwer 2015