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So you were diagnosed with testicular cancer, you underwent surgery, and now you are wondering, what’s next? What should you expect after testicular cancer surgery?
Here are the answers to the most asked questions following orchiectomy.
What is recovery time like after testicular cancer surgery?
Most men remain in the hospital overnight following testicular cancer surgery and then go home the next day. Your doctor may want you to stay a little longer if there are any complications.
Basically, however, here are the things you should do during your recovery from orchiectomy.
- You may need to place an ice pack or cold compress on your scrotum to help reduce swelling, which should disappear within a few days. Never keep the ice on your scrotum for longer than 15 minutes at one time.
- You may need pain medication for a few days after surgery.
- Wearing snug underwear or a jock strap can help with the swelling.
- Avoid sex, heavy lifting, and vigorous exercise for a few weeks following the procedure.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions on how to care for your incision
Your doctor may recommend radiation therapy or chemotherapy after surgery to reduce the risk of spreading any remaining cancer cells.
What are the side effects of testicular cancer surgery?
After orchiectomy, you may experience any of the following side effects.
- Pain: The level of pain following orchiectomy is typically minimal and can be controlled with medication prescribed by your doctor. However, if the pain becomes severe, contact your healthcare provider immediately before taking additional pain relief.
- You may have some bruising around your scrotum and the surgical wound. In some cases, blood accumulates inside the scrotum (this is called an intrascrotal hematoma), which can feel as if the testicle was not removed. To reduce the risk of developing an intrascrotal hematoma, you can wear scrotal support underwear. Both the bruising and hematoma will resolve over time.
- If you plan on having a family, having an orchiectomy should not have a negative impact on your fertility as long as the remaining testicle is healthy. If you undergo chemotherapy after surgery, however, there is a chance fertility may be impacted.
- Emotional impact. Removal of a testicle can strike a huge emotional blow to a man’s self-esteem. Many men find it helpful to talk about their feelings with a trusted friend or partner or they reach out to a counselor. An option is to replace the removed testicle with an artificial one, which is made of silicone. Testicle implants have the same feel and weight of a normal testicle and can be placed either at the time of the orchiectomy or later.
Are more tests needed after surgery for testicular cancer?
Maybe. If you have elevated tumor markers or if your doctor is not confident about whether the cancer has spread beyond the surgical site, then additional tests may be necessary. Here are the tests that may be suggested:
- Computerized tomography (CT): A CT scan takes three-dimensional pictures that can help the doctor determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. You may or may not be given an injection of a dye to help make the pictures clearer. The CT scan is painless and takes about 15 minutes to complete.
- X-rays: Your doctor may order a chest X-ray to determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This powerful imaging technique uses radio waves and a magnet to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. In some cases, the doctor asks for dye to be injected into the vein to help make clearer images. In any case, the entire scan take about one-half hour.
- PET scan. A positron emission tomography scan takes about 15 minutes, although the preparation time can be up to eight times as long. The scan results provide a picture of how your organs and tissues are functioning.
Memorial Sloan Kettering. Caring for yourself after your orchiectomy.
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