Most men find testicular cancers themselves. Doctors examine the testicles during physical exams. If a man experiences pain, heaviness, discomfort, enlargement or any other changes in the testicles or scrotum, he should see a doctor.
To determine the cause of these symptoms, the doctor will evaluate a man’s overall health and may order one or more of the following tests:
- The blood may be tested to measure the levels of tumor markers, or substances found in above average amounts when cancer is present. AFP (alpha-fetoprotein), BHCG (beta-human chorionic gonadotropin) and LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) are all tumor markers that might suggest a testicular tumor. Blood tests can detect tumor markers even if the tumor is too small to be seen by imaging tests or physical exams.
- Sound waves and a computer are used to create a picture of the scrotum that can show the size and shape of a mass in the testicle. This test is good for ruling out other conditions not related to cancer.
- A pathologist looks at a sample of tissue from the testicle under a microscope to check for cancer cells. In almost all cases of suspected cancer, the doctor removes the affected testicle through an incision in the groin. In rare cases, the doctor removes a sample of tissue through an incision in the groin, and only removes the entire testicle is cancer cells are found.
If testicular cancer is found, more tests are needed to find out if the cancer has spread from the testicle to other parts of the body. The stage of the cancer helps the doctor determine the right treatment.
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 Community
for more information on how the Cancer Support Community can offer support.