Update 8/5/2012 --- Thought I would update this thread to reflect what I have learned:
I am three-and-a-half years out from having a Non-Seminomatous Germ Cell Tumor, Predominately Embryonal Carcinoma, removed via Orchiectomy (uni-ballers unite!). I didn't do Chemo as we thought we caught it quickly, and have been undergoing the monitoring protocol outlined by the Testicular Cancer Research Center. I've included the Protocol here in full as I've talked to a few guys on this Forum who had/have Testicular Cancer and either weren't aware that there IS follow-up tests to be had, or didn't know what tests to talk to their Oncologists about doing:
Year One: Tumor Marker Blood Tests* and Chest X-ray every two months; CT Scan every three months
Year Two: Tumor Marker Blood Tests and Chest X-ray every two months; CT Scans every four months
Years Three through Five: Tumor Marker Blood Tests, Chest X-ray, and CT Scan every six months**
After Year Five: Tumor markers and Chest X-ray once a year
*The three Tumor Marker Tests are:
Lactase Dehydrogenase (LDH)
Beta Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (bhCG)
**Some Oncologists will cut back to once-a-year CT scans after the completion of year three. There is some discussion amongst Oncologists as to which is better. I don't know which is better, but my doctor has me on once-a-year now that I'm in year four. The Pro-more-CT-scans crowd feels that more aggressive testing pays off enough times to be necessary. The Anti-more-CT-scans thinks that cutting out any questionably-unnecessary CT scans saves the patient undue radiation (which CT scans have in spades!).
The bhCG test is used to indicate a re-emergence of testicular cancer. It is also used in indicating the presence of several other tumors, including: trophoblastic tumors, nonseminomatous testicular tumors, seminomas, melinoma, and carcinomas of the breast, G.I. tract, lungs, and ovaries (which obviously isn't applicable, but I added it for completeness). Elevated bhCG is also indicated in benign conditions including: cirrhosis, duodenal ulcers, and inflammatory bowel disease. Basically
If you have had testicular cancer and are currently in remission, as well as on TRT, you may be wondering if taking hCG to preserve testicular health will cause a "false positive" result from the bhCG blood test. Taking hCG WILL, in fact, cause bhCG values to rise, which will make it appear that you have an hCG producing tumor.
The testing range for bhCG is 0.0-3.0IU/L. Anything above this range indicates an hCG producing tumor, cancer, or one of the benign conditions above. Leading up to adding hCG to my protocol, my bhCG test results were always "< 2.0IU/L". After starting hCG, my result was 5.0IU/L.
So, does this mean that someone who is in the monitoring phase post-testicular cancer must abstain from using hCG?
No. As part of the Monitoring Protocol, the patient is getting CT Scans, Chest X-Rays, and two other blood tests in addition to the bhCG test. With the other fail-safes in place it is completely safe for a guy in remission to be using hCG to promote testicular health. As long as you and your doctor both know that the bhCG test will be compromised, and to treat results with this in mind, there is no harm in taking hCG. I will still be getting the bhCG test as part of my Monitoring Protocol, as any change in this value could still indicate all the maladies the test was designed to detect. Consistent use of hCG should give consistent bhCG values, which makes the bhCG still a valuable tool in alerting you and your doctor if something is going wrong.
Another thing to note: Taking hCG won't cause hCG-producing tumors to grow or appear.
Hope this information is helpful.