You might have an operation to remove your testicles (orchidectomy). The testicles produce testosterone, which can help prostate cancer grow. So removing the testicles can help to control the growth of prostate cancer. After the removal of the testicles, the level of testosterone in the blood falls quickly.
Having an orchidectomy doesn't cure prostate cancer. But it can control the cancer and reduce your symptoms.
Some men prefer to have this surgery as it is one treatment compared to having regular injections. Orchidectomy is not reversible. You may find the removal of your testicles upsetting.
Removing the testicles is a simple operation. You have the operation as an inpatient in the hospital. Most men stay overnight, but you might be able to go home on the same day.
Before the procedure
You have an orchidectomy under general anaesthetic. You'll be asleep for the whole operation. Or you might have a spinal anaesthetic. That means you are awake, but have an anaesthetic injection into your spine. You can’t feel anything below the level of the injection.
During the procedure
The surgeon makes a small cut in your groin and removes the testicles. After removing the testicles, they may put in fake testicles (prostheses) so that your scrotum looks and feels the same.
You may be able to have a smaller operation to remove only the inner part of your testes. This is a subcapsular orchidectomy. You don’t need a prosthesis after this operation but your scrotum will be smaller after the operation.
After the procedure
You may have some discomfort after the operation. You will have a few stitches on your scrotum. Usually, these are absorbable. So, they don’t need removal. You may go home the same day or stay in the hospital overnight.
Your doctors will make sure the benefits of having the surgery outweigh these possible risks:
- hot flushes
- difficulty getting an erection
This surgery may also affect your ability to have children. Talk to your doctor if having children is important. They usually suggest sperm banking before having surgery.
Possible changes to your sex drive and becoming infertile can be difficult to come to terms with. Talking to someone about this could help. This could be a close friend or a professional.
You will have a follow up appointment 6 weeks or so after your surgery. At the appointment your doctor:
- examines you
- asks you about how you are and if you have had any problems
It is also your chance to ask any questions. Write down any questions you have before your appointment to help you remember what you want to ask. Taking someone with you can help you to remember what the doctor says.
After your first check up you will continue to have follow up to monitor your cancer. How often you have checkups varies. Ask your doctor how often you need to have checkups and what they will involve.