Surgery involves removing tissues or organs from the body. The type of surgery you have depends on your cancer. You may also hear surgery called an operation or a procedure.
Every operation is different. Ask your surgeon about what to expect.
What you need to know
Testicular cancer surgery
Surgery to remove the testicle
Almost all men with suspected testicular cancer have surgery to remove the affected testicle. This operation is called an orchidectomy.
A specialist surgeon called a urologist performs the surgery. You will have a general anaesthetic. You may be able to go home on the day of the surgery or the next day.
The purpose of the surgery is to remove the abnormal testicle and confirm whether it contains cancer. After removal of the testicle, a specialist doctor called a pathologist looks at it under a microscope to check for cancer.
For some men, having an orchidectomy removes all the cancer and is the only treatment they need.
Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND)
Sometimes testicular cancer spreads to lymph nodes at the back of the abdomen, and surgery to remove these lymph nodes may be recommended. This is called a retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND). It is a long and difficult operation.
Your surgeon will discuss with you when and where you can have your operation, and any costs involved. They will also give you instructions about what to do before your surgery and what to expect afterwards.
The surgical team
Health professionals who work as part of the surgical team include:
- allied health professional.
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What to ask or talk about
Side effects of testicular cancer surgery
Your surgeon will discuss any risks of the surgery with you before your operation. Most hospitals will also give you written information about the surgery and who to contact if you have any concerns.
Possible surgical side effects and complications include:
- changes to body image
- emotional effects.
The surgical team looking after you during and after your operation will take care to reduce your risk of side effects, and treat any side effects that you get.
Men who have one testicle removed do not generally have fertility problems or sexual problems after this. However, these problems can happen in men who have both testicles removed or have retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND).
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Preparing for surgery
Before surgery, you will need to sign a consent form. It is important you understand what you are consenting to and the possible risks of the surgery.
Some things you should know are:
- whether you need to have tests and a preoperative assessment
- whether you need to change or stop any medications, e.g. blood thinners like aspirin
- when you have to stop eating and drinking
- when you have to be there
- whether you need time off work
- whether you need someone to care for you at home after surgery (if you are having day surgery you will need someone to drive you home).
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