A testicular cancer diagnosis can be made through several different tests, including blood tests and imaging scans. However, before ordering any advanced diagnostic tests, a physician will feel the testicles to check for any unusual lumps or swelling, and visually assess the abdomen and lymph nodes for other signs of cancer.
If there is a possibility that a tumor might be present, the following tests can be used to confirm or rule out a testicular cancer diagnosis:
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves to produce detailed images of a patient’s internal organs. This test can be helpful in distinguishing between benign testicular conditions, such as hydrocele or varicocele, and malignant testicular tumors.
- A blood test, which can identify high levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood (tumor markers). These tests are not always conclusive in making a testicular cancer diagnosis because certain types of testicular cancer do not produce any blood proteins and others are too small to markedly increase these protein levels. However, blood tests can help a physician differentiate between certain types of testicular cancer, and can indicate if a testicular tumor might be present.
- An imaging test, such as a CT scan, X-ray or MRI. These tests can reveal unusual growths that might be tumors, and can help indicate how far a tumor has spread (if one is present).
Although surgical biopsies, which involve the surgical removal of a tissue sample followed by laboratory testing, are often used to diagnose other cancers, they are very rarely used to make a testicular cancer diagnosis. That’s because removing a small portion of a testicular tumor may make the cells more likely to spread if they are indeed cancerous. As a result, if other tests suggest that cancer is present, physicians are more likely to perform a radical inguinal orchiectomy to remove the entire growth along with the testicle; once a lesion has been resected, samples can then be examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
At Moffitt Cancer Center’s urologic cancer clinic, our multispecialty testicular cancer team can perform all of these diagnostic tests in a single convenient setting and provide our patients with prompt and accurate results. If cancer is present, we can then recommend the most effective treatments based on a number of individual factors.
No referral is necessary to meet with a Moffitt oncologist about a potential testicular cancer diagnosis. To schedule an appointment, submit a new patient registration form on our website or call 1-888-MOFFITT.