Monitoring testicular cancer (surveillance)

If the risk of testicular cancer coming back is low, your doctor may suggest monitoring (surveillance) instead of having treatment, after surgery.

What is monitoring?

If you have stage 1 testicular cancer (early stage) with a low risk of it coming back after orchidectomy, your doctor may recommend monitoring, sometimes called surveillance, instead of further cancer treatment. This is when you have regular checks for signs of the cancer coming back (recurrence).

Monitoring aims to find any signs of cancer early, when it is easier to treat and cure. This means you avoid having adjuvant treatment, such as chemotherapy, which you may not need. You only have treatment if your tumour marker levels increase, or if scans show the cancer has come back.

Only a small number of testicular cancers come back. If it does come back, finding it early means there is still a high chance of curing it. But you may need a longer course of chemotherapy.

Your doctor and nurse will give you all the information you need to help you to decide if surveillance is right for you.

We have more information about making decisions about your cancer treatment.

What does monitoring involve?

Your specialist doctor will tell you what kind of monitoring you will have. It usually involves:

  • regular tumour marker checks and blood tests
  • regular chest x-rays
  • occasional CT or MRI scans
  • a physical examination of your body (including checking the other testicle).

Your doctor will ask you how you have been feeling, and about any new or ongoing symptoms. Tell them if you are having emotional or sexual difficulties.

How long does monitoring last?

You usually need regular clinic appointments for several years. As time passes, the risk of the cancer coming back reduces. That means your appointments and tests will become less often.

It is important to go to your surveillance appointments. If your address changes, make sure the hospital knows your new address. It is also important to tell your doctor if you get any new symptoms or feel unwell between appointments. You can arrange an earlier clinic appointment if you need to. Some appointments can happen by telephone in the first instance. The sooner a possible recurrence is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

About our information

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Ursula McGovern, Consultant Medical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:

  • use plain English
  • explain medical words
  • use short sentences
  • use illustrations to explain text
  • structure the information clearly
  • make sure important points are clear.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.

You can read more about how we produce our information here.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 May 2022
Next review: 01 May 2025
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

This means it is easy to use, up-to-date and based on the latest evidence. Learn more about how we produce our information.