Surveillance (monitoring) for testicular cancer

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

What is surveillance?

If you have stage 1 testicular cancer with a low risk of it coming back after orchidectomy, your doctor may recommend surveillance. This is when you have regular monitoring for signs of the cancer coming back. Your doctor and nurse will give you all the information you need to help you to decide if surveillance is right for you.

Surveillance aims to find any signs of cancer early and treat it when it is easier to cure. It means you avoid adjuvant treatment, such as chemotherapy, you may not need.

You only have treatment if your tumour marker levels increase or 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.

What does surveillance involve?

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

They will ask you how you have been feeling, and if you have any new or on-going symptoms. Tell them if you are having emotional or sexual difficulties.

How long does surveillance last?

You usually need regular clinic appointments for several years. It is extremely important to go to your surveillance appointments. If you move to another place, make sure the hospital knows your new address.

It is also important to tell your specialist if you get any new symptoms or feel unwell between appointments. You can arrange an earlier clinic appointment if you need to.

Over time, as the risk of the cancer coming back gets lower, your appointments and tests are less often.

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    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 Jim Barber, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.

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