Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Cancer cells divide quickly and chemotherapy drugs target and kill these quickly growing cells. Chemotherapy is referred to as a systemic treatment because the drugs travel through the body in your bloodstream, destroying cancer cells wherever they are in your body.
Chemotherapy drugs may be given by mouth or injection, or both. For testicular cancer, it is most commonly given as an injection in the vein. Doctors give chemotherapy in cycles. This means you will switch off between getting chemotherapy and having a rest period. Each treatment and rest period make up one cycle. Most treatments include two to four such cycles. Your doctor will explain what your treatment plan will be and what you can expect. Commonly, chemotherapy is given at an outpatient part of the hospital or at your doctor’s office.
These are the most common chemotherapy drugs for treating testicular cancer:
VePesid, Etopophos, VP-16 (etoposide)
If you are not cured with regular doses, your doctor may treat you with high-dose chemotherapy. Because higher doses can destroy your bone marrow (where new blood cells are made), this is followed by a bone marrow or stem cell transplant to help restore your blood stem cells. If your own cells are used, it is called an autologous transplant. If someone else’s cells are used, it is called an allogeneic transplant.