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Understanding Testicular Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment

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Doctor's Exam and Tests continued...

Blood tests, specifically alpha-feto-protein (AFP), beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (B-hCG), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).

Surgical removal of the testicle is needed if there is a suspicious lump. The lump will be tested for cancer. A biopsy without surgical removal of the testicle should never be performed as this can cause the spread of cancer.

If cancer is diagnosed, other tests such as a CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis will show whether it has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Removal of the second testicle is not standard practice because in most cases, it remains cancer-free. Removing one testicle usually does not cause infertility, but because further treatment may (such as radiation or chemotherapy), patients think about sperm banking before more treatment proceeds. A single sperm specimen is all that is needed, so there should be no delays in treatment.

What Are the Treatments for Testicular Cancer?

Surgical removal of a testicle is unavoidable, since the testicle is required for diagnosis. If cancer is found, a second operation to remove abdominal lymph nodes may be performed depending on the type and extent of the cancer. These two operations are often enough to cure testicular cancer that hasn't spread.

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or both may be used in addition to surgery to treat advanced cases of testicular cancer.

Stem cell transplantation to allow higher-dose chemotherapy is done if testicular cancer is not cured by regular chemotherapy. This is very uncommon.

Supportive therapies can help you deal with the emotional distress associated with cancer. Many patients find psychological counseling or support groups helpful in dealing with the emotional consequences.

Nearly all testicular cancer patients live cancer-free for a long time, but it is very important to have frequent and regular follow-up exams in case cancer comes back in the other testicle. All men with testicular cancer should be monitored for the rest of their lives.

How Can I Prevent Testicular Cancer?

It is not possible to prevent testicular cancer. Because it is so highly treatable, early detection with regular testicular self-exam is the most effective way to prevent complications or death from testicular cancer.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on March 31, 2014
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