Our Approach to Testicular Cancer

Patients who come to the Siteman Cancer Center for treatment of testicular cancer are seen by a team of Washington University Physicians — surgical, medical and radiation oncologists — often during the same visit.  A health psychologist is also available as needed. Experienced nurses then spend time with you, answering your questions and putting you in touch with resources that may help during this stressful time. These nurses offer patient literature on your condition, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and other related issues.

Testicular cancer occurs in the testicles located inside the scrotum underneath the penis. The testicles produce male sex hormones and sperm. While a relatively rare cancer, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men 20 to 35 years old. Our experts see, on average, about 42 cases a year. Testicular cancer is highly treatable, even when it has spread beyond the testicles. Doing a regular testicle self-exam may pick up growths early. Most are picked up by the patient.

The majority of testicular cancers start in the germ cells. The two main types of testicular germ cell tumors are:

  • Seminomas: These are more sensitive to radiation.
  • Nonseminomas: These tend to be diagnosed is older men 45 to 60 years old, and grow and spread more quickly.

The mainstay of treating testicular cancer is removal of the affected testicle. Removal of some types or grades may be followed by chemotherapy or radiation.

Types of treatment used for testicular cancer depend on the stage at which it is diagnosed, whether the cancer has spread outside the prostate gland, the patient’s age and personal wishes. Most men who get testicular cancer do not die of it.

Having your cancer treated at Siteman gives you access to new therapies that are as good as – or potentially better than – current standard therapies available elsewhere.