WARNING: The Embarrassing Bodies website contains images of an explicit medical nature and nudity in a medical context.

Embarrassing Bodies, 11:05pm Monday 28th July 2014 on Channel 4. Catch up for free on 4oD »

NHS Choices Condition

Content supplied by NHS Choices

Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable cancers, with approximately 95% of men making a full recovery. As with most cancers, the earlier the condition is detected and diagnosed, the better your chance of recovery.

The three main forms of treatment for testicular cancer are:

  • surgery,
  • chemotherapy, and
  • radiotherapy.

Surgery is the most common and effective form of treatment for testicular cancer. It is normally the first line of treatment for all stages and types of testicular cancer. Surgery and other treatments for testicular cancer are outlined below.

Orchidectomy

An orchidectomy is the medical name for the surgical removal of a testicle. If you have testicular cancer, it is necessary to remove the whole testicle because only removing the tumour may lead to the cancer spreading. Therefore, by removing the entire testicle your chances of making a full recovery are greatly improved.

If your testicular cancer is caught in the early stages, an orchidectomy may be the only treatment that you require.

The operation is performed under general anaesthetic. A small cut is made in your groin and the whole testicle is removed through this incision. If you want to, you can have an artificial (prosthetic) testicle inserted into your scrotum, so that the appearance of your testicles is not greatly affected. This artificial testicle is normally made from silicone.

How will an orchidectomy affect me?

Following an orchidectomy, you will need to stay in hospital for a few days. If you only have one testicle removed, there should not be any lasting side effects. Your sex life, and your ability to father children, will not be affected.

If you have both testicles removed, you will be infertile. However, it is very rare for both testicles to be affected by cancer and, therefore the removal of both is uncommon. You may be able to bank your sperm before your operation, which should allow you to father children if you decide that you want to.

Testosterone replacement therapy

Having both testicles removed will also stop you from producing testosterone. This means that you will require testosterone replacement therapy.

Testosterone tends to be given either in injections or skin patches. If you have injections, you will normally need to have them every 2-3 weeks. If you have testosterone replacement therapy, you will be able to maintain an erection and your sex drive.

Lymph node surgery

If your testicular cancer is more advanced, it can sometimes spread to your lymph nodes. Your lymph nodes help form part of your body's immune system, which protects the body against illness and infection.

Lymph node surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic. The lymph nodes in your chest and abdomen are the most likely nodes which need to be removed.

In some cases, the removal of your lymph nodes may leave you infertile. As with an orchidectomy, you may wish to bank your sperm before your operation, in case you become infertile.

Nerve sparing lymph node dissection

There is a type of operation, known as a 'nerve sparing' lymph node dissection, which can greatly reduce your risk of becoming infertile.

However, as this operation is a fairly new procedure, and can only be performed by specialised surgeons, it may not be available at all hospitals or treatment centres. This type of operation can also increase the risk of your cancer returning because not all of the lymph node is removed.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is a form of cancer therapy which uses high energy beams of radiation to help destroy cancer cells. Most seminoma types of testicular cancer will require radiotherapy as well as surgery. This is to help prevent the cancer from returning.

If your testicular cancer has spread to your lymph nodes, you may also require radiotherapy.

Side effects of this type of treatment can include:

  • fatigue,
  • skin rashes,
  • stiff joints and muscles,
  • loss of appetite, and
  • nausea.

These side effects are usually only temporary, and you should find that they improve once you have completed your treatment.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses anti-cancer medicines to either kill the malignant (cancerous) cells in your body, or stop them multiplying.

If your testicular cancer is advanced, or has spread to other places in your body, you may require chemotherapy. It is also used to help prevent the cancer from returning. Chemotherapy is most commonly used to treat non-seminoma tumours.

Chemotherapy medicines can either be injected or given to you orally (by mouth).
Chemotherapy can also attack the normal, healthy cells in your body, which is why this form of treatment can potentially have many side effects. The most common side effects include:

  • vomiting,
  • hair loss,
  • nausea,
  • mouth sores, and
  • fatigue.

These side effects are usually only temporary and you should find that they improve once you have completed your treatment.

view information about Cancer of the testicle on www.nhs.co.uk »

Important Notice

The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.


If you want to embed our videos in your site, read our embedding T&Cs here