Males who have witnessed symptoms that could be testicular cancer should seek medical diagnosis with a trusted doctor. The doctor will want to order tests to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms. The tests typically ordered are an ultrasound test, and also blood tests. The doctor will also perform a physical examination.
The ultrasound test is painless. The ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of the male scrotum. During the ultrasound exam the male will be asked to lie on his back with his legs spread. A gel will be applied to the scrotum area and a hand-geld probe is moved over the scrotum in order to make an ultrasound image. The ultrasound test will be used by the doctor to determine if lumps are solid or fluid filled. The doctor will also be able to tell if the lumps are inside or outside of the testicle. Your doctor will be able to use the ultrasound finding to help make the diagnosis of testicular cancer or to rule it out.
Blood tests will reveal certain tumor markers in the blood that are used to determine whether or not there are tumor cells present. A high level of a tumor marker in the blood does not mean that the male has testicular cancer for sure but the blood findings will be added to the ultrasound findings to determine the diagnosis.
Sometimes surgery is necessary to determine if the lump is cancerous, and if so, exactly what type of testicular cancer it is. This requires removal of the testicle.
The two types of testicular cancer are seminoma and nonseminoma. When you receive the diagnosis of testicular cancer the doctor will also tell you if it is seminoma or nonseminoma. Nonseminoma tumors usually occur in younger males and are very fast spreading tumors. The different types of nonseminoma tumors include choriocarcinoma, embryonal carcinoma, teratoma and also yolk sac tumor. Seminoma tumors occur in all age groups. Older males usually are diagnosed with seminoma tumors.
Part of diagnosing testicular cancer is assigning a stage to the cancer. After confirming that the male indeed has testicular cancer it then becomes important to determine if it has spread. The stage of cancer is how doctors assign the extent to which the cancer has spread.
There are several tests that can help to determine the stage of testicular cancer. These tests include: Computerized tomography (CT), X-ray, and blood tests. The CT scan is a series of X-ray images of the male abdomen. The abdominal lymph nodes can be examined in this manner. A chest X-ray may be ordered so that it can be determined if cancer has spread to the lungs. Blood tests will show what tumor markers are present and what level they are at. The blood tests are used to determine if the tumor markers are present in your bloodstream after the testicles are removed, if so, this would indicate that the cancer has spread. It is important to determine what stage of cancer so that the best treatment can be determined.
The stage descriptions are as follows:
Stage I cancer is when the cancer is limited to just the testicles.
Stage II cancer is when the lymph nodes are involved in the abdomen.
Stage III cancer is when the cancer has spread to other organs or tissues of the body. Typically if the cancer has spread, it involves the bones, brain, liver and also the lungs.