Know that it is highly treatable
Yes, we know being told to relax isn't going to help your situation. However, take a deep breath and consider a few things.
Testicular cancer is a highly treatable cancer. The survival rates are one of the highest of all the cancers. It is a diagnosis and not a death sentence. The overall survival rate is greater than 95%. If diagnosed early, while the cancer is confined to the testicle, the survival rate is 99%. If the cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes the survival rate is 96% and even if there are distant metastases the survival rate is over 70%.
We understand no one wants to have testicular cancer but you are not alone. More than 250,000 men in the U.S. are testicular cancer survivors. It can be the toughest challenge of your life but things will slow down and return to normal eventually.
Reach out to us
We are testicular cancer survivors and we are here to help you. Every diagnosis is different and our website can't address all of your unique needs. However, we know testicular cancer and we've been there. You'll never realize all the ways we can help until you reach out and let us know what is going on.
The diagnosis period can be an overwhelming whirlwind and unfortunately, your doctors office may not have all that much time to spend with you, but we do. We've been known for helping give those overwhelmed and unable to cope, new perspective and hope.
Be a self-advocate
You need to advocate for yourself, and as mentioned, contacting us is a great first step. Being diagnosed with cancer doesn't mean that you have become an island and others are not allowed to help you. Being a self-advocate means teaming up with family members or friends when you need help. Self-advocacy is an ongoing process of taking an active role in your cancer care. It involves:
effectively communicating your needs with your treatment team, friends and family
identifying your goals, needs and plans
be active in understanding what is going on: asking questions when you don't understand and feeling confident in the care you are receiving. In cancer care there is no "no news is good news." If you don't hear about your test results, call the doctor and get them.
An initial first step in self-advocacy is understanding that your medical record is yours and you have every right to know what it contains. We highly recommend asking your treatment team, or requesting from medical records, copies of your important results each time they are updated. These include having copies of your: pathology reports, imaging results (CT scans, ultrasounds, x-rays) and your tumor marker blood levels (AFP, beta-hCG and LDH). Being able to refer back to the results going forward is extremely important.
Consider guidelines and experts
The treatment options for testicular cancer are very standardized and guidelines have been established to provide for the highest success rates and to reduce unwanted complications. However, it is important to know that not every doctor may be the most experienced in treating testicular cancer. Some doctors may only treat a few cases a year or even less. While testicular cancer treatments are fairly straight forward data suggests non-guideline directed care frequently occurs, which can increase the chances of relapse and death. We suggest knowing your treatment options according to the guidelines and getting the opinion of a testicular cancer expert, if needed. We are here to help as well.
Think about fertility
Your doctor should talk to you about preserving your fertility, such as sperm banking. However, some doctors may elect or forget to discuss this issue with you so you may have to be the one to initiate the conversation. Testicular cancer, surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy don't automatically mean you will be infertile, but it can increase your risks.
Some doctors and patients may be in a rush to start treatments and may overlook any fertility issues. However, except for rare cases of very advanced disease, there is plenty of time to address any fertility concerns and you should have the information you need to make the right decisions.
ReproTech has a map to help you find fertility centers and for financial assistance for sperm banking. These are not the only centers available but it is a great place to start. We are here to help if you have difficulties in the sperm banking process.
Your cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Having a team of friends and family when fighting testicular cancer is essential. Having support from someone who has been there before, who has faced testicular cancer, and has walked in your shoes, can make a world of difference as well.
Visit our Help for fighters page to find more information and links to resources, programs, and services.