If you or your provider suspects that you may have testicular cancer, there are a variety of tests that can help confirm the diagnosis. In most cases, the provider will start by asking you for a complete medical history in order to check for risk factors and symptoms.
During a physical exam, your provider will feel the testicles to detect any sign of swelling or tenderness and to determine the size and location of any mass. Next, the provider will examine your 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, your provider will sometimes recommend one or more of the following tests:
An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves and a computer to create a picture of your internal organs. This enables your provider to more closely examine any abnormality of the testicles.
- Blood Tests
Certain blood tests are sometimes helpful in diagnosing testicular tumors. Many testicular cancers secrete high levels of certain proteins, and the presence of these proteins can help your provider diagnose your specific condition.
In rare cases, especially when a diagnosis of testicular cancer is uncertain, 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.
It is more common for the testicle and spermatic cord to be surgically removed in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis, and to prevent any cancer cells from spreading. In this case, the entire specimen is sent to the lab, where a pathologist can determine the type and extent of the testicular cancer.
- Imaging Tests
Tests such as chest X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and PET scans are often used to give providers a better understanding of where the cancer may have spread, and what it looks like.
Your provider will determine the appropriate combination of tests to accurately diagnose your condition. This information will be vital in terms of planning the most effective treatment for you.