Testicular Cancer Concerns

Testicular cancer raises many concerns for men. Men may suffer depression after surgery. They may be concerned about infertility and their ability to father children. Often men are unsure which doctors are responsible for which aspects of their treatment, and are unsure about the need for follow-up care. Here are some of the more common questions men have about testicular cancer:

What Type of Doctors Will Be Involved?

Most men are treated for testicular cancer by a team of doctors. A general practitioner may perform the initial physical exam and blood tests. Men are then likely to be referred to a urologist, who specializes in the urinary tract and genitals, or to an oncologist, who specializes in the treatment of cancer. Patients will see their oncologist several times a year for the first five years after treatment and annually for several additional years. Patients may or may not see the urologist following treatment.

Treatment usually does not affect men's ability to have children.Does Treatment Cause Infertility?

Many men worry about infertility when they are diagnosed with testicular cancer. Fortunately, treatment usually does not affect men’s ability to have children as the surviving testicle, if healthy, can produce sufficient sperm and testosterone.

Surgery and chemotherapy can, however, sometimes cause infertility. Men who want to father children should consider sperm banking before treatment, as a precaution in case of infertility.

How Will Treatment Affect Sexual Intercourse?

In most cases, the surgical removal of a single testicle will not affect sexual intercourse. Men will retain the ability to ejaculate and maintain erections. Sexual intercourse difficulties are more likely to occur if local lymph nodes also have to be removed. RPLND increases the chance of nerve damage, which may impair ejaculation.

Will I Be Depressed After Surgery?

Losing a testicle to testicular cancer affects men in much the same way as losing a breast affects women with breast cancer. In both cases, an organ that defines a person’s sexuality has been lost. Men commonly suffer depression after an orchiectomy.

The family and friends of men recovering from testicular cancer should learn to identify the signs of depression. Clinical treatment and medication for depression can help men deal with their loss.

How Important is Follow-up Care?

After treatment for testicular cancer, regular follow-up care is essential. Testicular cancer can recur in the surviving testicle many years after treatment. After the first five years of follow-up, men should still have the surviving testicle checked for signs of cancer once a year, and should perform monthly testicular self-exams.

How Can I Cope With Information Overload?

Testicular cancer is a difficult disease for men to deal with and accept. Men are often shocked by the news that they have a testicle tumor, and unable to process all of the information they receive from doctors. It may help to have a partner, family member or close friend accompany you to the doctors. This person can take notes for you, and ask the doctor questions you might forget. Recently diagnosed men should not rely on their memory when it comes to questions they have for their doctors. Write down questions and concerns and bring the list to appointments.

Resources

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2002). Testicular cancer: Signs and symptoms. Retrieved November 4, 2003, from www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?objectid=91B1CB36-2B25-4B93-8FB60CFCA C19B62D