Four treatments commonly used for testicular cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant.
Surgery is a common treatment for most stages of cancer of the testicle. A doctor may take out the cancer by removing one or both testicles through an incision (cut) in the groin. This is called a radical inguinal orchiectomy. Some of the lymph nodes in the abdomen may also be removed in a procedure called a lymph node dissection.
Radiation therapy uses X-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation usually is emitted by a machine and is called external-beam radiation, rather than radiation emitted by a substance consumed by the patient.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be taken by pill, or injected into a vein. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drugs enter the bloodstream, travel through the body and can kill cancer cells outside the testicle.
Bone marrow transplantation is a newer type of treatment. In an autologous bone marrow transplant, bone marrow is taken from the patient and treated with drugs to kill cancer cells. The marrow is then frozen. The patient is given high-dose chemotherapy — with or without radiation therapy — to destroy the remaining marrow. The marrow removed from the patient is then thawed and returned to the patient by injection in a vein to replace the marrow that was destroyed.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.