Frequently asked questions about HIV and Testicular Cancer
- Does having HIV make testicular cancer more difficult to diagnose and treat?
Any mass in the testicle should be treated with suspicion and an ultrasound should be performed irrespective of HIV status. One of the difficulties with testicular cancer HIV positives is it can be difficult to differentiate between abnormalities caused by HIV and cancer. This is particularly true if the HIV infection is advanced, where abnormally large lymph nodes can occur in both conditions. Close collaboration between doctors, radiologists and the oncologists is required.
- My consultant has told me I have non-seminoma cancer. What does this mean?
There are 2 groups of cancer. Non-seminoma testicular cancers include teratoma, embryonal carcinoma, choriocarcinoma and Yolk sac tumours. A non-seminoma testicular cancer may have some teratoma cells and some embryonal carcinoma cells, for example. It is also possible to have pure teratomas. These types of testicular cancer are usually treated in the same way so the exact cell types will not make much difference to you. Some testicular tumours have both seminoma cells and non-seminoma cells.
- I have been diagnosed with stage 2 testicular cancer. What does this mean?
Understanding how far your cancer has spread is called staging. It is important to know what stage your cancer is, in order that appropriate treatment may be given and to avoid your cancer spreading to other organs of your body. The stages are: stage 1 - cancer is only in the testicle, stage 2 - cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the abdomen, stage 3 - there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the chest or above the collarbone, stage 4 - cancer has spread to other organs, often the lung.
- Do some antiretroviral drugs (HAART) interact with the chemptherapy?
Yes, these interactions are drug specific and predictable. However, it is very important to give the right chemotherapy drugs to ensure the best possible outcome, therefore a change in the antiretroviral therapy may be required.
- What happens to the blood count during the cancer treatment?
Chemotherapy suppresses all aspects of teh immune repertoire in HIV positives and negatives alike. This predisposes chemotherapy patients to bacterial infections which can be serious (neutropaenic sepsis). If you develop a fever while on chemotherapy for testicular cancer seek urgent medical advice.