Surgery

  • Surgery is the main treatment for testicular cancer.
  • For this operation, known as an orchidectomy,the surgeon makes an incision in the groin, then the testicle is pushed up and out of the incision. It’s possible to replace it with a false testicle which is made of plastic and helps to keep the shape and look of your scrotum. This option will usually be explained to you before surgery, or you can ask your surgeon about it.
  • You may also need to have the lymph nodes close by in your abdominal area removed, because cancer cells have travelled to them. The lymph nodes are part of your immune system, which helps fight infections. This operation is called a ‘lymph node dissection’.
  • After the op, you’ll have some bandages over the incision site. You might also have a plastic drainage tube coming from the wound to drain any fluid that builds up. This usually comes out 2 or 3 days later. It’s likely that you’ll feel some pain or discomfort afterwards and you will probably need strong painkillers. Just let the nurses know.
  • Side effects really depend upon how much surgery you have had. For example, surgery to remove one testicle is very straightforward and you should make a full recovery. If you have both testicles removed though, there will be some side effects. Most people only have one testicle affected and will not need to have both testicles removed.
  • Fertility problems
  • You don’t need to worry about the loss of male hormones such as testosterone. Your body will still produce enough hormones if one testicle is removed and you’ll be given hormone injections if both are removed. The removal of one testicle (the most common operation) will have no effect on your sex life or your ability to become a dad yourself one day.
  • If both testicles are removed, you’ll also have a normal sex life, though your body won’t produce sperm so you wouldn’t be able to father children through sex. This may sound devastating, but fertility treatments such as sperm storage are available to help you to have a family, too.
  • Having a lymph node dissection can also affect your fertility. This is because the nerves that control the release of sperm (ejaculation) run very close to the lymph nodes and may be damaged by surgery. You can still get an erection and have an orgasm, but you won’t produce any semen (fluid that contains sperm). Some surgeons can now do what they call ‘nerve sparing surgery’ which tries to preserve the function of these nerves. There are no guarantees, but it is worth talking this option over with your surgeon.
  • Having to face this kind of surgery can feel pretty overwhelming. People sometimes find it embarrassing to talk about intimate parts of the body and you might find conversations with the doctors or your family awkward. Try not to let this put you off talking about things. It can be really helpful to let someone know how you’re feeling, so that you don’t bottle things up.

 

Leave Comment