Testicular cancer

Radiation therapy

Testicular cancer

Radiation therapy star_border Save this page

Radiation therapy is a way of treating cancers using X-rays or other types of radiation. It is also known as radiotherapy.

The type of radiation therapyused to treat testicular cancer is external beam radiation therapy. 

Some cancer treatments can affect fertility. If having children in the future is important to you, talk to your doctor about this BEFORE you start treatment. 

What you need to know

Radiation therapy for testicular cancer

Radiation therapy is used to treat some testicular cancers, especially seminomas as these respond well to this treatment. It may be given:

  • after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells
  • to prevent the cancer from coming back.

Not everyone who has surgery will have radiation therapy. Your doctors will tell you whether they recommend radiation therapy for you.

Most radiation therapy for testicular cancer is external beam radiation therapy (EBRT).

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT)

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) uses beams of X-rays or other radiation to treat cancer from outside the body. The beams are produced by a large machine called a linear accelerator.

There are several different types of EBRT. Most involve having treatment 5 days a week for a number of weeks. Others only need a small number of treatments.

Before starting radiation therapy you will go to a simulation or planning session to work out how you will be positioned for treatment.

When you go for each treatment, most of the time is used to set you up in the right position. The actual radiation beam is only on for a few minutes.

EBRT is not painful and you won’t feel anything during the treatment. You will hear some buzzing noises and the machine will move around you but it won’t touch you. The radiation therapist can see and hear you throughout the treatment.

The radiation oncology team

Health professionals who work as part of the radiation oncology team include:

  • radiation oncologist
  • radiation therapist
  • radiation oncology nurse
  • medical physicist.

What to ask or talk about

Side effects of radiation therapy for testicular cancer

Most people get some side effects when having radiation therapy for testicular cancer.

These include:

  • skin may become sore and red
  • fatigue
  • nausea and stomach discomfort
  • diarrhoea
  • reduced sperm count
  • discomfort when passing urine
  • loss of hair in the area being treated.

Ask your doctor or nurse what side effects to expect, and how to manage them.

Having external beam radiation therapy will not make you radioactive.

checklist Checklists

Use our checklists to find helpful tips or questions to ask.

Next steps

Preparing for radiation therapy

Before radiation therapy, you will need to sign a consent form. It is important you understand what you are consenting to and the possible side effects. 

Some things you should know are:

  • whether you need any tests before starting radiation therapy
  • if you need to change your diet or medications
  • when you have to be there
  • if you need to have time off work
  • if you will be able to drive after radiation therapy.
If you smoke, you should stop before starting treatment as your risk of complications is higher.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

My notes: