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How can patients and their families cope with testicular cancer
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Regular follow-up exams are very important for anyone treated for testicular cancer. A patient who has had testicular cancer should be closely monitored for several years to be sure the cancer is completely gone. If the cancer does recur, early detection is very important so that additional treatment can be started.

Follow-up care varies for the different types and stages of testicular cancer. Generally, patients are checked and have blood tests to measure tumor marker levels every month for the first 2 years after treatment. They also have regular x-rays and scans. After that, checkups may be needed just once or twice a year. Testicular cancer seldom recurs after a patient has been free of the disease for 3 years.

Patients who have been treated for cancer in one testicle have about a 1 percent chance of developing cancer in the remaining one. If cancer does arise in the second testicle, it is nearly always a new disease rather than a metastasis from the first tumor. Patients should be checked regularly by their doctor and should continue to perform testicular self-examination every month. Any unusual symptoms should be reported to the doctor without delay. As with the patient's first cancer, the earlier a new tumor is detected and treated, the greater the chance of cure.

How can patients and their families cope with testicular cancer?

When people have cancer, life can change for them and for the people who care about them. These changes in daily life can be difficult to handle. When a man learns that he has testicular cancer, it is natural to have many different and sometimes confusing emotions.

At times, patients and family members may be frightened, angry, or depressed. Their feelings may vary from hope to despair or from courage to fear. Patients are usually better able to handle these feelings if they talk about their illness and share their feelings with family members and friends.

Concerns about the future, as well as about medical tests and treatments, hospital stays, medical bills, and sexuality, are common. Talking with doctors, nurses, or other members of the health care team may help ease fear and confusion. Patients should ask questions about their disease and its treatment and take an active part in decisions about their medical care. Patients and family members often find it helpful to write down questions as they think of them to prepare for the next visit to the doctor. Taking notes during talks with the doctor can be a useful aid to memory. Patients should ask the doctor to repeat or explain anything that is not clear.

Most people want to know what kind of cancer they have, how it can be treated, and how successful the treatment is likely to be. The patient's doctor is the best person to answer questions and give advice about working or other activities. If it is difficult to talk with the doctor about feelings and other very personal matters, patients may find it helpful to talk with others facing similar problems. This kind of help is available through support groups, such as those described in the links and support page of this site. If the patient or his family finds that emotional problems become too hard to handle, a mental health counselor may be able to help.

Adapting to the changes that are brought about by having cancer is easier for patients and those who care about them when they have helpful information and support services. Often, the social service office at the hospital or clinic can suggest local and national agencies that will help with emotional support, financial aid, transportation, home care, or rehabilitation.