For most men with testicular cancer , treatment can remove or destroy the cancer. The end of treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but yet it’s hard not to worry about cancer coming back. These feelings are very common if you’ve had cancer. Life after cancer means returning to some familiar things and also making some new choices.
After you've completed treatment, your doctors will still want to watch you closely. It's very important to go to all of your follow-up appointments. During these visits, your doctors will examine you and ask questions about any problems you're having. Lab tests and/or imaging tests (such as chest x-rays and CT scans) will be done to look for signs of cancer or treatment side effects. Radiation treatment and some of the chemo drugs commonly used for testicular cancer have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks to months, but others can last the rest of your life. Talk to your doctor about long-term side effects you should watch for. This is also the time for you to talk to your cancer care team about any changes or problems you notice and any questions or concerns you have.
Follow-up care is extremely important after treatment of testicular cancer because even if it comes back, it’s still often curable. This is why finding it early is so important.
Your health care team will explain what tests you need and how often they should be done. If you had a non-seminoma, follow-up testing will include blood tests of tumor markers, such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). Tumor markers aren’t as helpful for patients with seminoma, so they aren’t always checked. Imaging tests (such as CT scans and chest X-rays) are also done to help find relapse as early as possible. As time goes on, these visits and tests will be done less often. Depending on the type of treatment you've had, you may also need follow-up for the possible complications of treatment.
Make a special effort to keep all appointments with your cancer care team and follow their instructions carefully. Report any new or recurring symptoms to your doctor right away. Most of the time, if the cancer comes back, it does so in the first 2 years. Still, there's always an outside chance the cancer can come back later. There’s also a small chance that you'll develop a new cancer in the other testicle, so report any changes in your remaining testicle to your doctor.
Ask your doctor for a survivorship care plan
Talk with your doctor about developing a survivorship care plan for you. This plan might include:
- A suggested schedule for follow-up exams and tests
- A schedule for other tests you might need in the future, such as early detection (screening) tests for other types of cancer, or tests to look for long-term health effects from your cancer or its treatment
- A list of possible late- or long-term side effects from your treatment, including what to watch for and when you should contact your doctor
- Diet and physical activity suggestions
- Reminders to keep your appointments with your primary care provider (PCP), who will monitor your general health care
Keeping health insurance and copies of your medical records
Even after treatment, it’s very important to keep health insurance. Tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think of their cancer coming back, this could happen.
At some point after your cancer treatment, you might find yourself seeing a new doctor who doesn’t know about your medical history. It’s important to keep copies of your medical records to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Learn more in Keeping Copies of Important Medical Records.
Can I lower my risk of the testicular cancer progressing or coming back?
If you have (or have had) testicular cancer, you probably want to know if there are things you can do that might lower your risk of the cancer growing or coming back, such as exercising, eating a certain type of diet, or taking nutritional supplements. Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear if there are things you can do that will help.
Adopting healthy behaviors such as not smoking, eating well, getting regular physical activity, and staying at a healthy weight might help, but no one knows for sure. However, we do know that these types of changes can have positive effects on your health that can extend beyond your risk of testicular cancer or other cancers.
About dietary supplements
So far, no dietary supplements (including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products) have been shown to clearly help lower the risk of testicular cancer progressing or coming back. This doesn’t mean that no supplements will help, but it’s important to know that none have been proven to do so.
© 2018 American Cancer Society. All Rights Reserved. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicular-cancer/after-treatment/disclaimer.html on October 26, 2018. Reprinted with permission.