SUPPORT CANADIANS LIVING WITH CANCER
Radiation therapy for testicular cancer
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat testicular cancer. Your healthcare team will consider your personal needs to plan the type and amount of radiation, and when and how it is given. You may also receive other treatments.
Radiation therapy is given for different reasons. You may have radiation therapy to:
- destroy the cancer cells in the body
- destroy cancer cells left behind after surgery or chemotherapy and reduce the risk of the cancer recurring (called adjuvant therapy)
- relieve pain or control the symptoms of advanced testicular cancer (called palliative therapy)
External beam radiation therapy
During external beam radiation therapy, a machine directs radiation through the skin to the tumour and some of the tissue around it.
Radiation therapy works best for seminomas. Non-seminomas do not respond well to radiation therapy. Doctors are more likely to offer radiation therapy if there is a higher risk of recurrence, such as when the tumour is large or cancer has spread over a larger area in the abdomen.
External beam radiation may be used for stage 1 and 2 seminomas after surgery to remove the testicle (called orchiectomy). Radiation is directed at the lymph nodes in the back of the abdomen (called the retroperitoneum). Sometimes it is also directed at the lymph nodes in the pelvis. The healthy testicle is protected from the radiation by a shield. Radiation treatments are usually given once a day, 5 days a week, for 2–4 weeks.
Questions to ask about radiation therapy
Great progress has been made
Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.