Testicular lumps are often found during a self-exam or by a doctor during a general physical exam. There are a variety of exams and tests to determine whether a lump is testicular cancer.
- Ultrasound—This procedure uses sound waves to create an image of the testicles and scrotum. During an ultrasound you lie on your back with your legs spread. Your doctor then applies a clear gel to your scrotum. A hand-held probe is moved over your scrotum to make the ultrasound image. Solid lumps are more likely to be cancerous.
- Tumor marker blood tests—Blood tests can help diagnose testicular cancer by looking for high levels of "tumor markers" unique to testicular cancer. Tumor markers for testicular cancer include: alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), beta human chorionic gonadotropin (beta-hCG), and lactase dehydrogenase (LDH). The marker type helps doctors tell what type of testicular cancer it may be.
- Surgery (radical inguinal orchiectomy)—In this procedure, the entire testicle is removed through an incision in the groin. Tissue samples are taken and analyzed to determine the type of cancer.
- Imaging tests—In addition to ultrasound, other imaging tests may be used to look inside your body to check the spread of cancer, whether treatment is working, and signs of additional cancer. Imaging tests include chest x-ray, CT, MRI, PET or bone scans.
Types of testicular cancer
About 90% of testicular cancers start in germ cells that make sperm. There are two main types of germ cell tumors. The type you have will determine your treatment and prognosis.
- Seminoma—Seminomas tend to grow more slowly and respond well to radiation therapy. The two subtypes of seminomas are: classical (most common) and spermatocytic (more often found in older men).
- Nonseminoma—Nonseminomas tend to occur earlier in life and spread faster. Young men are more likely to have nonseminomas. There are four tumor types: embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac carcinoma, choriocarcinoma and teratoma. These tumors generally respond better to chemotherapy than radiation therapy.
Stages of testicular cancer
After diagnosis, a doctor will determine the extent of the cancer by staging it. The stages of testicular cancer are:
- Stage I—Cancer is still only in the testicle.
- Stage II—Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the abdomen.
- Stage III—Cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Testicular cancer most commonly spreads to the lungs, liver, bones and brain.
Testicular cancer treatment options
Much progress has been made in the treatment of testicular cancer. After a testicular cancer diagnosis, your Community Cancer Care team will develop a treatment plan for you. The most common testicular cancer treatments include:
- Surgery to remove the cancer and/or testicle infected (radical inguinal orchiectomy). This is the primary method to treat testicular cancer. In some cases of early stage cancer, this may be the only treatment needed.
- Radiation therapy
Find out your options
Testicular cancer is highly curable. Call 800-777-7775 today to make an appointment for testicular cancer treatment at Community. Our certified MD Anderson Cancer Network® physicians will work with you to answer all your cancer questions.