How treatment is planned

The team who meet to plan your treatment are called a multidisciplinary team (MDT). They include specialist doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. They look at the type and size of the cancer and whether it has spread.

After this, your specialist will talk to you about the treatment options, their benefits, and disadvantages. They also tell you about treatment side effects and how they can be improved. Make sure you ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Having a relative or friend with you during these discussions can be helpful.

Sometimes your specialist may ask you to choose between different treatment options. This could be whether to have chemotherapy to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back or surveillance. It’s important to have all the information you need before you make treatment decisions.

After your specialist explains your treatment and you agree to it, they ask you to sign a consent form. This gives permission (consent) for the hospital staff to give you the treatment. Doctors can’t give any treatment without your permission.

Multidisciplinary team

In most hospitals a team of specialists will talk to you about the treatment they feel is best for your situation.

This multidisciplinary team (MDT) will include a:

  • surgeon - who specialises in testicular cancers
  • medical oncologist - a chemotherapy specialist
  • clinical oncologist - a radiotherapy and chemotherapy specialist
  • nurse specialist.

The team may also include other healthcare professionals, such as a dietitian, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychologist or counsellor.

The MDT will take a number of factors into account when advising you on the best course of treatment, including your general health, the type and size of the tumour, and whether it has begun to spread. Your doctors may ask you to choose what you want to do, such as whether to have adjuvant treatment or surveillance. Sometimes people find it hard to make a decision like this. Make sure that you have enough information about the different options, what is involved and the possible side effects. This will help you decide on the right treatment for you.

Remember to ask questions about anything that you don’t understand or feel worried about. It may help to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of each option with your cancer specialist, nurse specialist or with our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00.

It often helps to make a list of questions and to take a relative or close friend with you.

You can find more information about making treatment decisions on our website.

Giving your consent

Before you have any treatment, your doctor will explain its aims. They will usually ask you to sign a form saying that you give permission (consent) for the hospital staff to give you the treatment.

No medical treatment can be given without your consent, and before you are asked to sign the form you should be given full information about:

  • the type and extent of the treatment
  • its advantages and disadvantages
  • any significant risks or side effects
  • any other treatments that may be available.

If you don't understand what you've been told, let the staff know straight away, so they can explain again. Some cancer treatments are complex, so it's not unusual to need repeated explanations.

It's a good idea to have a relative or friend with you when the treatment is explained, to help you remember the discussion. You may also find it useful to write a list of questions before your appointment.

People sometimes feel that hospital staff are too busy to answer their questions, but it's important for you to know how the treatment is likely to affect you. The staff should be willing to make time for your questions.

You can always ask for more time if you feel that you can't make a decision when your treatment is first explained to you.

You are also free to choose not to have the treatment. The staff can explain what may happen if you don't have it. It’s essential to tell a doctor or the nurse in charge, so they can record your decision in your medical notes. You don't have to give a reason for not wanting treatment, but it can help to let the staff know your concerns so they can give you the best advice.

The benefits and disadvantages of treatment

Many people are frightened at the idea of having cancer treatments because of the side effects that can occur. Your doctor and nurse will talk to you about ways of coping with different side effects. Many side effects can be controlled with medicines. 

In men with early testicular cancer, surgery alone may cure the cancer. Often, adjuvant chemotherapy is given to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. You may be concerned about having adjuvant treatment that you may not need, and that  has side effects. Or you may prefer to have any treatment that reduces the risk of the cancer coming back. It’s important that you have all the information you need, so that you can make the right choice for you. If early testicular cancer comes back, it can usually still be cured in most men.

Testicular cancer that has spread outside the testicle can also usually still be cured. Even if it’s very advanced or comes back after initial treatment, intensive chemotherapy can be given with the aim of curing  the cancer.

Rarely, very advanced testicular cancer may not respond well to treatment, or may continue to come back despite treatment. In this case, treatment can be given to help control the cancer, and improve symptoms and quality of life. Occasionally, this may have little effect on the cancer, and men will have side effects without the benefit of treatment. 

Making decisions about treatment in these circumstances is always difficult, and you may need to talk it over with your doctor and family or friends. If you choose not to have treatment for the cancer, you can still be given treatment to control any symptoms.

Back to Who will be involved in my treatment decision?

Getting a second opinion

There are many reasons for wanting a second opinion about your treatment. Speak to your specialist or GP.

Making a complaint

Talking to your healthcare team can make it easier to cope. If you find talking difficult, there are things you can do.