Thumbnail image of: Male Pelvis: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Testicular Self-Exam: Illustration

Cancer of the Testis

What is cancer of the testis?

Cancer of the testis (testicular cancer) is an abnormal growth of cells that form tumors in the testicles. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is still testicular cancer, and is called metastatic testicular cancer.

There are different types and stages of testicular cancer based on what kind of cancer cells are found, where the tumor started and where it has spread. Knowing the type and stage of testicular cancer helps your healthcare provider decide on the best treatment plan for you. It is important to diagnose and treat testicular cancer as soon as possible. The main goals of treatment are to kill the tumor cells, prevent a localized cancer from spreading, and prevent metastatic cancer from spreading more than it already has.

Testicular cancer occurs most often in men aged 20 to 54 years. There are a few things that increase your risk for testicular cancer. These include a family history of testicular cancer or having a condition called cryptorchidism, in which one or both of the testicles has not moved into the scrotum (also called undescended testicles).

What can I expect in the hospital?

Several things may be done while you are in the hospital to monitor, test, and treat your condition. They include:

Monitoring

  • You will be checked often by the hospital staff.
  • Your heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature will be checked regularly.
  • Your fluid intake may be monitored closely by keeping track of everything you eat and drink and any IV fluids you receive.
  • Your fluid output may be monitored closely by keeping track of the amount of urine and bowel movements you produce.

Testing

Testing may include:

  • Testicular exam: A test in which your provider check the scrotum and testicles for swelling or lumps
  • Blood tests to check for certain hormones, proteins, or chemicals that may be high if you have cancer
  • An ultrasound, which uses sound waves to show pictures of the testicles, pelvis (the area below the belly and between the hips), and lower abdomen (belly)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: A series of X-rays taken from different angles and arranged by a computer to show thin cross sections of the testicles, pelvis, and lower abdomen
  • Tests to check if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, including:
    • Blood tests to check for certain hormones, proteins, or chemicals that may be high if you have cancer
    • Chest X-ray: Pictures of the inside of your chest to check for cancer
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used to take pictures from different angles to show thin cross sections of the testicles, pelvis, abdomen, and other areas where the cancer may have spread
    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows areas where the radioactive material is being absorbed.
    • Lymph node dissection: Surgery to remove lymph nodes in the abdomen (belly) to check if the cancer has already spread. It also allows the pathologist to determine the stage of the cancer accurately. This will allow your healthcare providers to determine if you need more treatment after you recover from surgery.

Treatment

The treatment for testicular cancer depends on your symptoms, how well you respond to treatment, your overall health, and any complications you may have. Your chance of cure depends on both the type of cancer and how far the cancer has advanced. You may need to make lifestyle changes to stay as healthy as possible.

  • You will have a small tube (IV catheter) inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. This will allow for medicine to be given directly into your blood and to give you fluids, if needed.
  • Surgery is the treatment of choice for testicular cancer. Surgery includes removing one or both of the testicles and the spermatic cord (tissue that support the scrotum and testicles). Your surgeon will also remove lymph nodes in the pelvis and abdomen near the testicles to check if the cancer has already spread. This is called a lymphectomy. It also allows the pathologist to determine the stage of the cancer accurately. This will allow your healthcare providers to determine if you need more treatment after you recover from surgery.
  • Treatments may also include:
    • Chemotherapy (anticancer drugs), which uses medicine to kill cancer cells.
    • Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.
  • Your provider may also prescribe medicine or other therapy to:
    • Treat pain
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Treat or prevent low blood counts caused by the cancer or its treatment
    • Treat or prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation, from other treatments
    • Help your immune system fight cancer

What can I do to help?

  • You will need to tell your healthcare team if you have new or worsening:
    • Bloating or pain in your belly
    • Blood in your urine
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Deep bone pain
    • Depression
    • Signs of infection around your surgical wound. These include:
      • The area around your wound is more red or painful
      • The wound area is very warm to touch
      • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from your wound area
      • You have a fever of 100.5 degrees F (38.1 degrees C) or higher
      • You have chills or muscle aches
    • Swelling, redness, or pain in your scrotum or groin
    • Swollen lymph nodes in your groin
  • Ask questions about any medicine, treatment, or information that you do not understand.

How long will I be in the hospital?

How long you stay in the hospital depends on many factors. The average amount of time to stay in the hospital with testicular cancer is 7 days.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-19
Last reviewed: 2014-11-21
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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