For some men, an orchidectomy to remove the testicle is the only treatment they need. Because of this, specialists may suggest regular check-ups instead of further treatment. This is known as surveillance.
What you need to know
Surveillance for testicular cancer
Surveillance is when your doctor reviews you regularly to check for signs of testicular cancer after your initial surgery.
It includes having blood tests to check tumour marker levels. Your doctor may also order other tests like a chest X-ray or a CT scan to see if there are signs of the cancer coming back.
If there are signs the cancer has returned then further treatment such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy can be started.
Tumour markers for testicular cancer
Some testicular cancers make chemicals called tumour markers that are released into the blood. These include:
- AFP (alpha-fetoprotein)
- hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin)
- LDH (lactate dehydrogenase).
When testicular cancer is active the tumour marker levels in the blood may be increased.
Tumour markers may be used to:
- help diagnose testicular cancer
- see if the cancer has spread
- watch if the cancer becomes active after surgery
- see if you are responding to treatment.
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What to ask or talk about
Appointments and tests during surveillance
It is important to know:
- when your appointments are due
- what tests you are to have
- that surveillance is an important part of your treatment.
Your doctor will be able to see if the cancer becomes active by reviewing your test results and examining you. You will need to tell your doctor how you feel and if you have noticed any symptoms.