If testicular cancer is suspected, there are a variety of tests that can help confirm the diagnosis. In most cases, the provider will start with a complete medical history and physical exam. Dr. Jerman, can you tell us more about diagnosing testicular cancer?
Absolutely, Dr. Reynolds. During a physical exam, the provider feels the testicles to detect any sign of swelling or tenderness, and to determine the size and location of any lump or mass. Next, the provider examines the abdomen to feel for enlarged lymph nodes. If cancer is suspected, this could be a sign that the disease has spread.
Depending on the results of the physical exam, the provider may recommend one or more of the following tests:
- Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, or PET scan
- Blood tests
- Surgery, and
- In rare cases, biopsy
When testicular cancer is considered likely, surgery may be recommended to remove the effected testicle and spermatic cord, and the entire specimen is examined under a microscope.
When a diagnosis of testicular cancer is uncertain, however, the provider may perform a biopsy before removing the testicle. During this procedure, a surgeon makes an incision in the groin, withdraws the testicle from the scrotum, and examines it without cutting the spermatic cord. If suspicious tissue is seen, a portion of the tissue is removed and examined under a microscope.