Testicular Cancer – Medications

Chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer uses powerful medicines to kill the cancer cells in your body. But because of the risk of serious side effects linked to chemotherapy, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of these medicines with your doctor before starting treatment.

Chemotherapy can cause nausea and vomiting. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to control nausea and vomiting to take before, during, or after your treatments.
Medication Choices

Some common medicines used to treat testicular cancer include:

* Cisplatin-combination chemotherapy. This is the most commonly used treatment for testicular cancer. It is a combination of the following three medicines:
o Cisplatin
o Bleomycin
o Etoposide
* Ifosfamide and paclitaxel.

Medicines to control and prevent nausea and vomiting may include:

* Serotonin antagonists, such as ondansetron (Zofran), granisetron (Kytril or Sancuso), or dolasetron (Anzemet). These medicines more effectively prevent nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy when they are combined with corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone.
* Phenothiazines.
* Metoclopramide (Reglan).
* Dimenhydrinate (Gravol).

What To Think About

You may be given a choice between receiving chemotherapy or another treatment. When making your decision, it is important to talk to your doctor about the risks and possible side effects of each treatment.

Chemotherapy affects rapidly growing cells in your body, which, besides cancer cells, includes blood cells, hair cells, and the cells that line your digestive tract. Common short-term side effects include nausea and vomiting, hair thinning or hair loss, mouth sores, diarrhea, and an increased chance of bleeding and infection. Many men do not have problems with these side effects. Other men have a great deal of difficulty. If you have problems, your doctor can use other medicines to help relieve some of these side effects.

Although uncommon, chemotherapy for the treatment of testicular cancer has also been linked to serious long-term side effects including high blood pressure (hypertension), increased cholesterol levels, and kidney and lung damage, as well as increased risk of secondary cancers including leukemia and melanoma.1 Generally, these long-term side effects have been linked to higher doses of chemotherapy than are usually given for the treatment of stage I testicular cancers. Before beginning treatment, talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have about the long-term side effects of chemotherapy.

Fertility and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy for testicular cancer has been linked to permanent infertility in some men. Because most men diagnosed with testicular cancer are younger than 35, fertility issues are often an important part of the decision about which treatment to receive. Unless you are sure you won’t want to father a child in the future, talk to your doctor about sperm banking before any treatment for testicular cancer.


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