Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Testicular Cancer

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal risk factors and/or experience with testicular cancer. By talking openly and regularly with your healthcare provider, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your healthcare provider:
  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
  • Ask your doctor if it is acceptable to audio tape the interview and discussion, so that you can listen to the comments later once you are at home. Most qualified doctors will welcome the opportunity to have the session taped.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider

About Your Risk of Developing Testicular Cancer
  • What do you recommend I do with an undescended (or atrophic) testicle?
  • How great is my risk from having had a hernia/hydrocele as a child or mumps in my testicles as an adolescent?
  • Are my brothers and/or sons at risk for testicular cancer because of my experience?
About Lumps or Abnormalities You Find
  • Is it likely enough to be an infection so that treatment with an antibiotic is a good first step? Or should we proceed with an ultrasound?
  • What type of testing will I need to determine what the lump or abnormality is?
About Treatment Options
  • What treatment do you recommend for my case?
  • What are the risks and benefits of treatment?
  • What if I want to have children? How will my fertility be affected and what can I do about it?
  • Please share with me the pathology and staging information so I can participate in treatment decisions.
  • Are there any recent studies that might improve upon current treatment recommendations?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies I should consider?
About Lifestyle Changes
  • How much will my treatment interfere with my current lifestyle, and for how long?
  • Shall I plan for time off from work?
  • Will my sexual function be affected?
  • Will I be able to ride a bike? Or participate in other sports?
  • Do I need to make changes in my diet?
About Outlook
  • Is my cancer curable?
  • Could cancer recur in my other testicle?

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References

The Association of Cancer Online Resources, Inc. website. Available at: http://www.acor.org. Accessed January 31, 2006.

Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center website. Available at: http://cpmcnet.columbia.edu. Accessed January 31, 2006.

Fauci AS, Braunwald E, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2000.

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