Imaging Tests

If a provider suspects that testicular cancer may be present, they may order one or more imaging tests.

An ultrasound is a test that can help the provider determine if a mass is solid or filled with fluid. This test uses sound waves to produce images of internal organs. A transducer emits the sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off the organs. A computer processes the pattern of echoes to produce an image that is displayed on a monitor. The echoes from most tumors differ from those of normal tissue. These patterns of echoes also can help distinguish some types of benign and malignant tumors from one another. Further tests and procedures will likely be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
CT scans use a series of x-rays and computer analysis to create cross-sectional images of internal organs. A contrast dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs and tissues show up more clearly.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI uses a powerful magnet and radio waves linked to a computer to make detailed images of internal organs and structures. An MRI can show whether cancer has spread. Sometimes oral or intravenous contrast material is used to make abnormal areas show up more clearly on the image.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
In a PET scan, radioactive glucose, or sugar, is injected into the patient's vein. Because cancers use sugar much faster than normal tissues, the cancerous tissue accumulates more of the radioactive material than normal cells. A scanner can identify the radioactive deposits. This test can be useful for detecting cancer that has spread beyond the testicles. Often the PET scan is combined with a CT scan. This combination can help the provider determine whether or not abnormalities found on the CT scan are cancer.