Testicular Cancer: Your Chances for Recovery (Prognosis)

What is a prognosis?

You may hear your healthcare team use the word prognosis. But what does it mean? Prognosis is a calculated guess that describes your likely outcome from cancer and cancer treatment. It’s a question many people have when they learn they have cancer.

Making a choice

The decision to ask about your prognosis is a personal one. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to know. Some people find it easier to cope and plan ahead when they know their prognosis and the statistics for how well a treatment might work. Other people find statistics confusing and frightening. Or they might think statistics are too general to be useful.

A healtcare provider who is most familiar with your health is in the best position to discuss your prognosis with you. He or she can explain what the statistics may mean in your case. At the same time, keep in mind that your prognosis can change. Cancer and cancer treatment outcomes are hard to predict. For instance, a favorable prognosis (which means you’re likely going to do well) can change if the cancer spreads to key organs or doesn’t respond to treatment. An unfavorable prognosis can change, too. This can happen if treatment shrinks and controls the cancer so it doesn’t grow or spread.

What goes into a prognosis

When figuring out your prognosis, your healthcare provider will look at all the things that could affect your cancer and its treatment. He or she will look at the estimates for risks about the exact type and stage of the cancer you have. These estimates are based on what results researchers have seen over many years in other people with the same type and stage of cancer.

If your cancer is likely to respond well to treatment, your healthcare provider will likely say you have a favorable prognosis. This means you’re expected to live many years and may even be cured. If your cancer is thought to be hard to control, your prognosis may be less favorable. The cancer may shorten your life. It’s important to keep in mind that a prognosis says what’s likely or probable. It is not a prediction of what will definitely happen. No healthcare provider can be fully certain about an outcome.

Remember, your prognosis depends mainly on:

  • The exact type of cancer

  • The stage of the cancer

  • Your overall health

  • Your treatment decisions

  • How well your cancer responds to treatment

Understanding survival rates

Survival rates show what portion of people live for a certain length of time after being told they have cancer. The rates are grouped for people with certain types and stages of cancer. Many times, the numbers used refer to the 5-year or the 10-year survival rate. That’s how many people are living 5 years or 10 years after being diagnosed with cancer. The survival rate includes:

  • People who are cancer-free

  • People who are still getting treatment for their cancer

What are the survival rates for testicular cancer?

Here are the 5-year survival rates for testicular cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. These include all types of testicular cancer. The outlook for some types might be better than others.

  • Overall, the 5-year survival rate for testicular cancer is about 95%.

  • For men whose cancer is found before it has spread to lymph nodes or other organs, the 5-year survival rate is about 99%.

  • The 5-year survival rate for testicular cancer that has reached nearby organs or lymph nodes is about 96%.

  • Once testicular cancer has spread to distant organs, the 5-year survival rate is about 73%.

These numbers are adjusted to account for the fact that some people with testicular cancer may die from other causes.

Talk with your healthcare provider

Ask your healthcare provider about survival rates and what you might expect. But remember that statistics are based on large groups of people. They cannot be used to say what will happen to you. No two people are exactly alike. Treatment and how well cancer responds to treatment vary.