Moving on after treatment for testicular cancer
For most men with testicular cancer, treatment removes or destroys the cancer. While it can feel good to be done with treatment, it can also be stressful. You may find that you now worry about the cancer coming back. (When cancer comes back, it is called a recurrence.) This is a very common concern for those who have had cancer.
It may take a while before your fears are somewhat relieved. You can learn more about what to look for and how to learn to live with the chance of cancer coming back in Living With Uncertainty: The Fear of Cancer Recurrence.
For a few people, the cancer may never go away completely. They may get regular chemo, radiation, or other treatments to try to help keep the cancer in check. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be hard and very stressful. Our document, When Cancer Doesn’t Go Away, talks more about this.
If you have finished treatment, your doctors will still want to watch you closely. There is still a good chance for cure even if the tumor comes back, so finding it early is important.
Your doctor will explain what tests you need and how often they should be done. You will need blood tests to measure levels of certain tumor markers to see if the cancer has come back. You might also need x-rays, CT scans, and other tests to see whether the cancer has come back, has spread, or whether there is a new tumor. As time goes on, these visits and tests will not have to be done as often.
Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks to several months, but others can last the rest of your life. Be sure to tell your cancer care team about any symptoms or side effects that bother you so they can help you manage them.
Most of the time, if the cancer comes back, it does so in the first 2 years. Still, there is always an outside chance the cancer can come back later. Also, there is a small chance that you will develop a cancer in the other testicle.
Should your cancer come back, our document When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence can help you learn how to cope with this phase of your treatment. You can get a copy by calling us at 1-800-227-2345.Seeing a new doctor
At some point after your cancer diagnosis and treatment, you may find yourself seeing a new doctor who does not know anything about your medical history. It is important that you be able to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Gathering these details soon after treatment may be easier than trying to get them at some point in the future. Make sure you have this information handy and always keep copies for yourself:
- A copy of your pathology report from any biopsy or surgery
- If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report
- If you were in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary that the doctor wrote when you were sent home from the hospital
- If you had radiation treatment, a copy of the treatment summary
- If you had chemo or targeted therapies, a list of your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
- Copies of your CT scans (or other imaging tests) – these can often be placed on a DVD
It is also important to keep health insurance. While you hope your cancer won’t come back, it could happen. If it does, you don’t want to have to worry about paying for treatment.
Last Medical Review: 01/02/2014
Last Revised: 02/11/2014