Diagnosis

If a patient has symptoms that could be a germ cell tumor, the doctor will test for fever and high blood pressure and check general signs of health. The patient will likely have one or more of the following tests:

Physical Exam - An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. The testicles may be checked for lumps, swelling, or pain. A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.

Chest X-Ray - An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.

Serum Tumor Marker Test - A procedure in which a sample of blood is examined to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs, tissues, or tumor cells in the body. Certain substances are linked to specific types of cancer when found in increased levels in the blood. These are called tumor markers. The following three tumor markers are used to detect extragonadal germ cell tumor:

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP).
Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG).
Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).

(Blood levels of the tumor markers help determine if the tumor is a Seminoma or Nonseminoma.)

CT Scan (CAT scan) - A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.

Ultrasound Exam - A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs, such as the testicles, and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.

Biopsy - The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. The type of biopsy used depends on where the extragonadal germ cell tumor is found.

Excisional Biopsy: The removal of an entire lump of tissue.
Incisional Biopsy: The removal of part of a lump or sample of tissue.
Core Biopsy: The removal of tissue using a wide needle.
Fine-Needle Aspiration (FNA) Biopsy: The removal of tissue or fluid using a thin needle.

Once the results from the test or procedure are returned you will be able to make thoughtful decisions.

Once the results from the test or procedure are returned you will be able to make thoughtful decisions. Please see Newly Diagnosed  for information on being patient active, treatment decisions, partnering with your healthcare team and finding support. 

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is difficult. Please see Caregivers and/or Online Support for more information on how the Cancer Support Community can offer support.

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