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New Treatment for Testicular Cancer

Armen Hareyan's picture

It's the most common form of cancer in men age 15 to 35 and is diagnosed in 8,000 men annually. Fortunately, new advances in the treatment of testicular cancer can mean recovery after surgery in only around 36 hours.

At the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, urologic surgeon Robert S. Figenshau, MD, is performing a minimally invasive treatment for the disease that's only available at a few centers nationally.

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By definition, testicular cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles. All patients go onto surgery, where the cancerous testicle is removed.

However, many patients with low stage (Stage I or Stage II), testicular cancer tumors often elect to undergo further surgery to remove the lymph nodes behind the abdomen. This procedure, called "retroperitoneal lymph node dissection" (RPLND), is a major operation that traditionally includes a lengthy incision from below the breastbone to the groin.

Conversely, Dr. Figenshau and his colleagues at Siteman can perform the procedure laparascopically. Small keyhole incisions are made and a small video camera and long instruments are inserted. Looking on a video monitor, Dr. Figenshau can perform the exact dissection and removal of the lymph nodes that is done in the open surgical procedure.

"We have had surgical results similar to those of the open procedure, but patients experience a much more rapid recovery when compared to the recovery period following the open surgical procedure," says Dr. Figenshau. "Most patients are discharged from the hospital the day after surgery and are fully recovered one month after the surgery."