For many men, the diagnosis of testicular cancer will seem devastating. The good news is however that there are many treatment options available to you and most of them have excellent success rates. In fact, testicular cancer is among one of the most curable and highly treatable forms of the cancerous disease.
There are several forms of treatment available such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Of the three, radiation therapy is not as widely understood in terms of how it is performed as well as its side effects and risk factors. Radiation therapy is effective for smaller cancerous cells, especially those that have spread to the lymph nodes in the abdominal area.
High Energy Rays
A beam of high energy particles or rays are aimed at the cancerous cells to destroy them completely or at least greatly hinder their growth. The high energy rays are typically x-rays or even gamma rays. The particles in this beam used could be neutrons, electrons or protons. Remember, radiation therapy is best for capturing and killing those cancer cells that have escaped the testicular area and migrated to the abdominal lymph nodes.
During this therapy of radiation, the beam of particles or energy is produced from separate physical machine in a process known as “external beam radiation.” A doctor works to narrowly focus in on only the cancerous cells and this requires an exacting precision. While this procedure can be successful, there is a drawback. This radiation is indiscriminate and can destroy healthy cells and tissue as well. For this reason, precision is very important.
There are some side effects to radiation therapy although not everyone gets them. You could experience a sunburn type of reaction at the radiation beam site. Diarrhea, fatigue, nausea and other side effects may occur but can easily be treated by over the counter remedies as approved by your doctor.
Doctors work hard to lower the probability of experiencing side effects. They tackle the cancerous cells from all angles to determine the most precise dose of radiation therapy you need. This attention to detail lowers your risk of side effects and possibility of destroyed healthy tissue. In addition, doctors will place protective gear in strategic areas to conserve your chances of future fertility.
The good news is that the dose of radiation therapy used in testicular cancer is often lower than in other types of the disease. This type of therapy is often employed after the affected testicle is removed in a procedure called an orchiectomy. The radiation beam, in this situation, is directed to the retro peritoneal lymph nodes, the ones located behind the abdominal area. This is a precautionary measure used to destroy any remaining cancerous cells that may not have been removed with the extraction of the testicle.
When you are diagnosed with testicular cancer and your doctor starts discussing treatment, pay close attention to your options. While radiation therapy is common and effective, it may not always be the best bet for this type of cancer. It all depends on the stage you are in.