Things to Consider When Seeking Treatment

After the cancer is diagnosed and staged, your doctor will discuss all of the possible treatment options with you. You should take time and think about all of the choices that are available. When deciding upon the best treatment, these are the things you should consider:

1. The stage of your cancer and your overall physical health.  Treatment options are dependent upon these two factors.

2. Getting a second opinion from another doctor.  A second opinion can provide more information and help you feel good about the treatment plan. Some insurance companies require a second opinion before they will agree to pay for treatments.

3. Where you will be treated.  There is no substitute for experience. You have the best chance for a good outcome if you go to a hospital that treats many patients with testicular cancer.

Treatment Options

Treatment Options:

·   Surgery

Surgery removes the testicle(s) containing the cancer. An incision is made in the groin, and the testicle is taken from the scrotum through the opening. A cut is made through the spermatic cord that attaches the testicle to the abdomen. This procedure is known as a radical inguinal orchiectomy. The surgeon takes special precautions to avoid spreading cancer cells into the surgical wound or dislodging them from the tumor in the bloodstream. All stages of testicular cancer are treated with surgery.  For patients whose cancer has spread beyond the testicles, additional surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation may be necessary.

·   Chemotherapy
Most types of chemotherapy kill cancer cells directly. Treatment regimens usually involve using 2 or more drugs.  This has been found to be more effective than single drug therapy.  The chemotherapy regimens most commonly used as the initial treatment for testicular cancer are cisplatin, etoposide, and bleomycin, or cisplatin and etoposide.  Some doctors believe that a more intensive regimen should be used for patients with high-risk disease, and may suggest a different combination of chemotherapy drugs or even a stem cell transplant.

·       Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is mainly used to kill cancer cells that have invaded the lymph nodes.  This therapy uses a beam of high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells or slow their rate of growth.  High-energy rays include gamma rays or x-rays, where as particles include electrons, protons, or neutrons.  This treatment is administered from a machine that focuses the radiation known as external beam radiation.

·        Stem Cell Transplantation
Stem cell transplantation is used in combination with high dose chemotherapy in treating some patients with advanced cancer or recurrent cancer after initial treatment with chemotherapy.  This treatment is still being studied in clinical trial.  Stem cell transplantation collects blood-forming stem cells from the bloodstream using a special machine.  These stem cells are preserved by freezing, while the patient receives high-dose chemotherapy.  The patient than receives high doses of chemotherapy that destroys the patient’s bone marrow.  The stem cells are then infused into the patient where they make their way to the bone marrow and reproduce and replace the bone marrow.  This treatment allows doctors to use extremely high doses of chemotherapy that may increase the likelihood of curing some aggressive testicular cancers.