Testicular cancer

Treatment

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) experts offer comprehensive care for testicular cancer, including advanced treatments. 

Men with localized testicular cancer come to the SCCA Prostate Oncology Center at UW Medical Center for care. If your disease is advanced, your first visit may be at the SCCA outpatient clinic on Lake Union. Our testicular cancer specialists see patients at both locations.

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you can safely take one to three months to do research, get a second opinion and carefully consider your options.

A diagnosis of cancer can feel overwhelming. We have an experienced, compassionate team ready to help. 

Testicular cancer expertise at SCCA

Everything you need is here

We have surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and pathologists who specialize in testicular cancer; the most advanced diagnostic, treatment and recovery programs; and extensive support. 

Testicular cancer treatment tailored to you

We view treatment as a collaborative effort. Your SCCA doctors will explain all your options and recommend a treatment plan to get you the best results based on the type and stage of your cancer and your health, lifestyle and preferences.

Team-based approach

Your personal team includes more than your testicular cancer doctors, nurses and patient care coordinators. Additional experts who specialize in treating people with cancer will be involved if you need them — experts like a dietitian, pharmacist, social worker or palliative care professional.

Learn More About Supportive Care Services

Ongoing care and support

During and after treatment, your team continues to provide follow-up care on a schedule tailored to you. Our patients say they find it reassuring to see the same doctors who treated them for their follow-up visits. The SCCA Survivorship Clinic is also here to help you live your healthiest life as a testicular cancer survivor.

Treatment types

Treatment looks different for different people depending on your diagnosis. We tailor your treatment plan to you. Learn more about the treatment types offered at SCCA. 

Surgery

Most men with testicular cancer have surgery. The type of surgery depends on how advanced the cancer is. Your SCCA surgeon will talk with you in detail about the procedure we recommend for you, why and what to expect.

Typical procedures are:

  • Radical inguinal orchiectomy — removing the affected testicle and spermatic cord through an incision in your groin. Surgeons remove the spermatic cord because it can serve as a pathway for cancer cells to travel to other parts of your body.
  • Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection — removing lymph nodes in your abdomen, usually through an incision in your abdomen. This is done for more advanced disease. 

Removing lymph nodes may affect nerves that control ejaculation, leading to infertility, but this doesn’t affect your ability to have an erection. Surgeons use methods to protect the nerves that control ejaculation (nerve-sparing techniques) when they can.

Surgery

Most men with testicular cancer have surgery. The type of surgery depends on how advanced the cancer is. Your SCCA surgeon will talk with you in detail about the procedure we recommend for you, why and what to expect.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. Usually, lower doses of radiation can be used to treat testicular cancer compared to other cancers. 

Your radiation oncologist will design a specific course of treatment for your individual situation — to deliver radiation to your cancer, where radiation is needed, and limit exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

Some men develop infertility as a result of radiation therapy. In some cases, fertility returns after the treated areas heal.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. Usually, lower doses of radiation can be used to treat testicular cancer compared to other cancers. 

Chemotherapy

Doctors commonly use chemotherapy to treat testicular cancer that has spread beyond the testicles. Often they use a combination of medicines, usually given by infusion into a vein.  

Your SCCA team will talk with you about the specific medicines we recommend for you, how you’ll receive them, your treatment schedule and what to expect. We’ll also explain how to take the best possible care of yourself during treatment and after, and we’ll connect you with medical and support resources throughout SCCA.

Chemotherapy

Doctors commonly use chemotherapy to treat testicular cancer that has spread beyond the testicles. Often they use a combination of medicines, usually given by infusion into a vein.  

Bone marrow transplant

Chemotherapy is highly effective at killing cancer cells, but it has the unwanted side effect of killing healthy cells too.

One promising new development in the treatment of advanced testicular cancer is bone marrow transplantation. Transplant allows doctors to give you high doses of chemotherapy, followed by healthy cells to help your body recover.

In this procedure:

  • You receive medicine to coax your blood-forming stem cells from your bone marrow into your bloodstream. 
  • Your transplant team filters your stem cells from your blood and freezes them for storage while you have high-dose chemotherapy.
  • After chemotherapy, the team transplants your stem cells back into your body (autologous transplant) to replenish the healthy cells that were destroyed. 

By allowing doctors to use stronger chemotherapy, this type of transplant may increase the cure rate.

Learn more about the Fred Hutch Bone Marrow Transplant Program at SCCA, including the lifelong support you get through our Long-Term Follow-Up Program for transplant recipients.

Bone marrow transplant

Chemotherapy is highly effective at killing cancer cells, but it has the unwanted side effect of killing healthy cells too.

Infertility after testicular cancer

Treatment for testicular cancer can cause infertility. The risk depends on the elements of your specific treatment plan. Your SCCA team will talk with you about the potential side effects of your treatment and all your fertility options, including sperm banking, in which your healthy sperm is frozen and stored for later use. We work closely with the Men's Health Center at UWMC-Roosevelt, which specializes in men's fertility.