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Personal stories about choosing radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or watchful waiting for stage I seminoma

These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.

Stephen, age 20: When I was a senior in high school, my doctor found a lump on my testicle during a physical. After doing some tests, he told me I had testicular cancer. I guess the good news was that we had found it early enough that it might not have spread yet. After surgery, my doctor looked at my test results and said that there was a good chance that orchiectomy by itself might cure me. I decided that I didn't want to go through with radiation or chemotherapy unless I absolutely had to, no matter how many checkups I had to go to. It's been about three years now, and so far the cancer has not come back. I still go in pretty often for exams and blood tests, but to me it's worth it. I think I made the right choice.

Randall, age 29: About six months after our wedding, I discovered a lump on my testicles when I was in the shower. Needless to say, I was very concerned, and I scheduled an appointment with my doctor the next day. Within three weeks, I was having an orchiectomy. After that, my doctor said that my cancer was at an early stage and that I was very lucky to have found it because the lump wasn't very big. He told me that I could either have radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or wait and see if I was cured. I decided to wait and see. That was two years ago. Last week, my doctor found something on my CT scan that didn't look right. As it turns out, my cancer has come back, so now I'm going to have to have radiation therapy anyway. I wish I had just gotten it over with two years ago rather than go through all the checkups and tests, and worrying about it all this time.

Adolfo, age 32: Four years ago, I found a lump on my testicles. After being diagnosed with early-stage seminoma testicular cancer, I decided to do chemo right away rather than radiation therapy or watchful waiting. My doctor told me that chemo doesn't have the same risk of getting another kind of cancer later in life. I know that there is still a small chance of being infertile from the chemotherapy, but to me it's an acceptable risk. My testicular cancer has been cured, and I feel great.

Jeff, age 49: When I was 29, I was diagnosed with stage I seminoma testicular cancer. At the time, I was told that my cancer was found at a very early stage and that I could either choose radiation or surveillance (watchful waiting) after orchiectomy. I decided to go with radiation therapy because I wanted my cancer to be cured as soon as possible. At the age of 46, I was diagnosed with leukemia, which my doctor says could be a result of the radiation therapy I received during treatment for testicular cancer. There's no way to be sure that that's what caused my leukemia, but now I wish I had thought about a surveillance program a little more seriously.

Author Bets Davis, MFA
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology/Oncology
Last Updated January 26, 2009

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 26, 2009
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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