Testicular Cancer

Testicular Cancer

In the four decades since the first cure for advanced testicular cancer was reported by the National Cancer Institute, testicular cancer has emerged as one of the greatest success stories in cancer treatment. Modern therapies now cure 95 percent of men diagnosed with testicular cancer. Achievements in testicular cancer treatments were driven by clinical trials that provided critical insight on the most effective uses of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Studies have guided doctors as they increasingly adopt a "less is more" approach to cancer therapy: more than three-quarters of men with early-stage testicular cancer are now treated with surgery alone.

However, gaps in treatment and long-term care still exist. A small portion of patients – mostly young men – have cancers that do not respond to current therapies and there is a growing need for follow-up survivorship care to address any long-term health risks associated with the disease and treatment.

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2005

Testicular cancer survivors face increased risk of second cancers, other health problems

Testicular cancer survivors face increased risk of second cancers, other health problems

A major study finds that survivors of testicular cancer – especially those who received radiation or chemotherapy – have double the risk of developing a second cancer three or more decades after their initial diagnosis. Other research identifies an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and chronically low testosterone. These findings highlight the need for doctors to continually monitor for long-term health effects among the growing number of cancer survivors.

2004

Single dose of chemotherapy reduces risk of cancer recurrence in men with early-stage disease

Single dose of chemotherapy reduces risk of cancer recurrence in men with early-stage disease

A large European study shows that a single dose of the chemotherapy drug carboplatin (Paraplatin, Paraplat), following surgical removal of the cancerous testicle, lowers the risk of cancer recurrence and may reduce the risk of cancer developing in the opposite testicle. This finding results in a new treatment option for men with early-stage testicular cancer, potentially sparing them from standard radiation therapy, which is highly effective but is associated with an increased risk of developing a second cancer in another organ later in life.

1997

Experts establish new model for classifying testicular cancers

Experts establish new model for classifying testicular cancers

An international panel analyzes combined data from thousands of participants in clinical trials in order to develop a classification system for germ cell tumors (tumors that generally arise in the testicles or ovaries). This system now helps doctors to more accurately assess testicular tumors, determine prognosis, and uniformly classify cancers for clinical trials worldwide.

1996

Lance Armstrong's diagnosis of advanced testicular cancer raises awareness

Lance Armstrong's diagnosis of advanced testicular cancer raises awareness

Armstrong's diagnosis and successful treatment for metastatic testicular cancer draws national attention to the importance of testicular cancer screening, the availability of effective treatment options and the need for continued research. Armstrong's open discussion of his experience also draws attention to the needs of the growing number of cancer survivors.

1990

New surgical technique allows most men to maintain their sexual function, fertility

New surgical technique allows most men to maintain their sexual function, fertility

After identifying the lymph nodes where testicular cancer is most likely to spread, surgeons begin using a new surgical technique – called nerve-sparing or modified retroperitoneal lymph node dissection – to remove the cancerous testicle and the affected nodes. Whereas previous surgical techniques generally left men unable to ejaculate following surgery, this new approach spares key nerves and tissue. Over time, refinements to the approach enable 95 percent of men with testicular cancer to maintain their sexual function and fertility.

1987

Some testicular cancer patients can forego chemotherapy

Some testicular cancer patients can forego chemotherapy

Studies show that many men with early-stage testicular cancer can forego chemotherapy after surgery, and instead receive "active surveillance" (regular check-ups to monitor for cancer recurrence). When cancer does recur, available drugs are generally able to cure the disease. This approach spares many men from the side effects of possibly unnecessary chemotherapy, and is now the standard approach for about 75 to 80 percent of patients.

Researchers hone standard chemotherapy to increase effectiveness, minimize side effects

Researchers hone standard chemotherapy to increase effectiveness, minimize side effects

A new standard of care is established when a trial shows that using the drug etoposide (Toposar, VePesid), instead of vinblastine (Velban, Velsar), together with cisplatin and bleomycin (Blenoxane) leaves more patients cancer-free and causes far fewer nerve and muscular side effects. Over time, researchers also learn that many men respond well to three cycles of chemotherapy, rather than four, and that patients who do relapse can generally be cured with one additional round of chemotherapy.

1980

New "tumor markers" help doctors monitor testicular cancer via blood tests

New "tumor markers" help doctors monitor testicular cancer via blood tests

Researchers find that testing for certain proteins in the blood – known as tumor markers or biomarkers – can help doctors detect some tumors and track how well a patient is responding to chemotherapy for testicular cancer. These markers include alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), beta human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and lactase dehydrogenase (LDH). This discovery enables doctors to better determine which patients need the most aggressive treatments.

1977

New treatment regimen cures majority of advanced testicular cancers

1974

Antibiotic bleomycin helps reduce treatment-related side effects

Antibiotic bleomycin helps reduce treatment-related side effects

Bleomycin (Blenoxane), an anticancer antibiotic, is approved by the FDA, and soon becomes part of standard treatment for testicular cancer. The new drug is found to be an ideal component of combination chemotherapy because, unlike other anticancer drugs, it does not suppress the bone marrow's ability to produce red and white blood cells. Patients who are able to maintain higher blood cell counts are far less likely to experience treatment-related complications.

1970

Two new drugs produce first complete remissions in advanced testicular cancer

Two new drugs produce first complete remissions in advanced testicular cancer

Clinical trials show that the drugs vinblastine (Velban, Velsar) and mithramycin are effective in men with advanced stages of testicular cancer. By combining the new drugs with existing treatments, physicians find that they can achieve complete remissions in 10 to 20 percent of cases – an impressive result for any cancer at an advanced stage.

1960

First effective chemotherapy found for men with advanced testicular cancer