Richard's Option

Just wanted to compliment you on your TC web site. You've really done a fantastic job. I was about to say that I wished I had seen it before I was diagnosed with TC two years ago... but I'm not sure! I've really had it much easier than most of the guys who posted their experiences.

The orchiectomy was a breeze. I went to the same-day surgery unit at about 9:00 in the morning, went into surgery at 10:45, and was home at 1:30. Not just released, but actually home in bed! The surgeon sprayed an anesthetic into the wound before closing it, so I had very minimal discomfort. (I found this in the surgery report, having gotten a copy to take to the oncologists.) I had the surgery on a Monday, and was back at work on Thursday. Never really had much pain at all.

The pathology report revealed pure seminoma (good news), and it hadn't been found outside the testicle itself. It was in some of the lymphatic system within the testicle. I read the NCI web pages on TC, and those were extremely helpful. In fact, I took copies with me when I saw the oncologists. From them, I learned that seminoma is 99.5% curable in Stage I with radiation, and at least 70% curable even in Stage III. The first oncologist I saw (quite a nice fellow, who had taught at our state's top medical school) recommended a "short course of radiation" immediately. But I wanted to know why I should expose myself to an increased risk of not-so-easily curable cancers when my urologist was telling me I was probably cancer-free already. After all, if seminoma was detected in another location later, *then* we could cure it with radiation. He said, "Ok, if you feel that way, here's a radiation oncologist who has published studies on using surveillance. Why don't you go see him?"

I went to see Dr. Smalley, and he was receptive to what I was thinking. After looking at the lab reports, he said "You have approximately a 20% chance of a recurrence over the next 5 years. If we do radiation, you'll have a 99.5% chance of being cured immediately. [Editor's note: Actually, he had a 95% chance of being cured immediately. If it came back, chemo would bring the odds to 99.5%] If we choose surveillance, and find something later, we can do the radiation then, and you'll have the same 99.5% chance of being cured." I had to convince him that I wouldn't blow off the CT Scans, but he ultimately left the choice up to me. Without hesitation, I chose surveillance.

I have quarterly CT Scans for the first two years. All came back clean. (There was one slight scare, when a small cyst showed up. My urologist used the high-tech method of shining a flashlight through my scrotum to determine that it was fluid-filled and of no concern.) Now, I'm going to a 6-month schedule for three more years.

So, that's my history. Hope the experience is helpful to other folks. Keep up the good work!


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