This surgery involves removing one or both testicles. It is often performed if testing leads to a high suspicion of testicular cancer.
The testicles are two glands that are part of the male reproductive system. They are located in the scrotum, a sack that sits behind the penis. The primary function of the testicles is to produce sperm and testosterone (a male hormone). Testicular cancer refers to the growth of abnormal (malignant or cancerous) cells in one or both testicles. The two primary types of testicular cancer (seminoma and nonseminoma) start in the testicular cells that make sperm.
Your healthcare provider will look to see if your testicular cancer has spread to other areas of the body. This process is called “staging.”
Your healthcare provider will need the following clinical information to decide what type of treatment is right for you.
An orchiectomy is the removal of one or both of the testicles through an incision in the groin. It is the primary surgical treatment for testicular cancer. The nearby lymph nodes may also be removed at the same time as the testicle(s).
It is not known for sure what causes testicular cancer. Several factors may increase your chance of developing testicular cancer are:
There is no conclusive link between having a vasectomy and developing testicular cancer.
There may be no symptoms in the early stages of testicular cancer. Some of the symptoms that can develop include:
As the cancer advances, other symptoms can develop. These symptoms can affect the:
Contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the above symptoms. He or she will review your symptoms and perform a physical examination, which may include shining a flashlight through your scrotum. Your provider may also recommend one or more of the following:
The treatment for testicular cancer is based on many factors, including:
Treatments are either local (only affects the area of the cancer) or systemic (affects all areas of the body). Local treatments include:
The systemic treatment for testicular cancer is chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells.
Treatment for testicular cancer often involves a combination of local and systemic treatments.
To get a full range of opinions and perspectives, you may want to consider input from a variety of doctors. This group may include:
If your healthcare provider recommends an orchiectomy, prior to the surgery you should tell them about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). You should also ask about specific instructions to follow before and after the surgery. These may include:
If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking. It can interfere with your recovery from surgical procedures.
During your surgery, you will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free.
You may need pain medication and help at home while you recover.
It is important to remember that the total cost of this care path does not include all possible medications, labwork or imaging studies. Those charges can add up. If your healthcare provider recommends any labwork or imaging studies you may need to search for their costs separately.
You should contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of testicular cancer. Be prepared to discuss any symptoms you have and how long you've had them.
What should I ask my healthcare provider before having an orchiectomy?
Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and for help at home.
Before you go home, make sure you understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects), what symptoms you should report to your healthcare provider after discharge and follow-up plans. Your surgeon should also communicate with your primary care physician.
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