The treatment of testicular cancer usually involves removal of a testicle. Above and beyond complete elimination of the cancer, men often have three additional concerns – aesthetics, hormone production, and fertility.
The aesthetic effect of losing a testicle can have some emotional consequences. Usually these feelings will heal with time. Although the absence of a testicle is visibly unnoticeable to others, surgical placement of a prosthetic (artificial) testicle is an option.
When it comes to hormones, the body compensates easily. A normal testicle is capable of producing many times the necessary amount of testosterone required by the body. As a result, the remaining testicle can manufacture the amount of testosterone once produced by both testicles. Although seldom required, testosterone can be replaced with medication.
Removal of a testicle will cause a decreased level of sperm production, but usually the resulting amount of sperm produced will be adequate for sexual reproduction. If not, many assistive techniques are available to help achieve a pregnancy. Fertility, however, can be affected if additional therapies such as radiation, chemotherapy, or lymph node removal are needed for eradication of the cancer. In such cases, sperm banking in advance of treatment is a desirable option.
Open, clear communication with the physician about these legitimate fears and concerns can lead to appropriate action rather than living with anxieties. Scott D. Miller, MD uses his skills and network of medical resources to help all of his patients manage with the outcomes of testicular loss.