- How is testicular cancer treated?
- Surgery for testicular cancer
- Radiation therapy for testicular cancer
- Chemotherapy for testicular cancer
- High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant for testicular cancer
- Clinical trials for testicular cancer
- Complementary and alternative therapies for testicular cancer
- Treatment options for testicular cancer by stage
- More treatment information for testicular cancer
High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant for testicular cancer
In general, testicular cancers respond well to chemotherapy (chemo), but not all cancers are cured. Even though higher doses of chemo might be more effective, they are not given because they could severely damage the bone marrow, which is where new blood cells are formed. This could lead to life-threatening infections, bleeding, and other problems because of low blood cell counts.
A stem cell transplant allows doctors to use higher doses of chemo. Blood-forming stem cells are collected from the bloodstream in the weeks before treatment using a special machine. In the past the stem cells were taken from the bone marrow, but this is done less often now. These stem cells are frozen, and then the patient receives high-doses of chemo. After the chemo the patient gets his stem cells back again. This is called a transplant, but it does not involve surgery – the cells are infused into a vein much like a blood transfusion. The stem cells settle in the bone marrow and start making new blood cells over the next few weeks.
For testicular cancer, stem cell transplant is most often used to treat cancers that have come back after treatment with chemo. Current studies are exploring whether high-dose chemo followed by a stem cell transplant may be valuable in treating some patients with advanced germ cell cancers as part of their first treatment.
This is a complex and intense treatment. It should be done at a hospital where the staff has experience with the procedure and with managing the recovery phase. Stem cell transplants can be very expensive and often require a lengthy hospital stay. It is important to find out what your insurer will cover before deciding on a transplant to get an idea of what you might have to pay.
For more information on stem cell transplants see our document called Stem Cell Transplant (Peripheral Blood, Bone Marrow, and Cord Blood Transplants).
Last Medical Review: 05/04/2012
Last Revised: 01/17/2013