Screening and Diagnosis
These and other symptoms may be caused by testicular cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:
- A painless lump or swelling in either testicle.
- A change in how the testicle feels.
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or the groin.
- A sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum.
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum.
The following tests and procedures may be used for diagnosing testicular cancer:
- Physical exam and history: 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 will be examined to check for lumps, swelling, or pain. A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
- Ultrasound exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called asonogram.
- 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 3 tumor markers are used to detect testicular cancer:
Tumor marker levels are measured before radical inguinal orchiectomy and biopsy, to help diagnose testicular cancer.
- Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP).
- Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG).
- Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).
- Radical inguinal orchiectomy and biopsy: A procedure to remove the entire testicle through anincision in the groin. A tissue sample from the testicle is then viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells. (The surgeon does not cut through the scrotum into the testicle to remove a sample of tissue for biopsy, because if cancer is present, this procedure could cause it to spread into the scrotum and lymph nodes.) If cancer is found, the cell type (seminoma or nonseminoma) is determined in order to help plan treatment.