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Treatment not testicular cancer poses greatest risk to survivors' long-term health
Date:10/15/2009

Testicular cancer survivors can face an increased risk of long-term illness, not because of the malignancy, but the highly effective treatment they receive, according to a study in the urology journal BJUI.

Researchers from the Norwegian Radium Hospital at the University of Oslo found that the number of problems faced by survivors are higher than generally thought, because clinicians only report those that are life-threatening or require medical intervention. Awareness of this discrepancy has led to a greater focus on patient-reported outcomes.

The research review, part of a November BJUI special issue on testicular cancer, shows that as many as a quarter of survivors develop long-term neurological, hearing and circulation problems and they are twice as likely to develop a secondary cancer. On a more positive note, up to 80 per cent who attempt to become fathers after treatment are successful.

"Patients can suffer considerable mental distress after having one testicle removed due to cancer, but this gradually decreases with treatment" says lead author Professor Sophie D Fossa.

"Gastrointestinal side-effects are common during both chemotherapy and radiotherapy and chemotherapy carries added risks like infections and blood clots. Long-term problems include secondary cancers, heart problems, and conditions related to lower hormone levels.

"We believe that the best way to reduce the short and long-term health of survivors is to reduce the risk, by smoking cessation, physical activity and weight reduction, and to provide adequate follow-up for patients who could develop life-threatening toxicity."

Key findings from the review, which covered 40 studies published between 1990 and 2008, included:

  • About 80 per cent of men who have one testicle removed continue to produce sperm, often at reduced levels, and although men are advised to freeze their semen before treatment, less
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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