What Are the Different Types of Testicular Cancer Tests?

Erin J. Hill

The most common testicular cancer tests include ultrasound, blood protein tests, and biopsy. X-rays are also commonly used to detect tumors. Most testicular cancers are first detected, however, through a self-exam in which a lump or mass is felt on one or both testicles. This generally leads to additional testing in order to make a diagnosis.

Treatment of testicular cancer may require the removal of the tumor and one or both of the testicles.
Treatment of testicular cancer may require the removal of the tumor and one or both of the testicles.

Most men who are diagnosed with testicular cancer first discover in a lump in the testes during a routine self-examination or during sex. Oftentimes, a partner is the first to notice that things feel or appear different than normal. It is generally advised that men check both testicles regularly to feel for lumps, swelling, or tenderness. Both testes should feel the same, so comparing one to the other is generally a good idea when checking for abnormalities.

Rarely, testicular cancer can cause swelling of the testicles.
Rarely, testicular cancer can cause swelling of the testicles.

Any lumps should be checked by a licensed physician or nurse as soon as possible. Most lumps are benign, but some may indicate cancer. The doctor may choose to perform one of several testicular cancer tests on patients who exhibit abnormal lumps or swelling. These can include ultrasound, X-ray, or Computed tomography (CT) scan. Each of these has benefits, although the exact tests used will depend on lump size and exact location.

Biopsy is the least common of the testicular cancer tests because extracting cells from the testicles has been shown to spread cancerous cells. This procedure may be done in certain situations, such as when other tests have not given a definitive answer on the source of lumps, but this is relatively uncommon.

If the lump or lumps are discovered to be malignant, additional testicular cancer tests may be done to determine whether the cancer has spread and where else it is located if so. Treatment generally includes removal of one or both testicles, depending on how far the cancer cells have spread. Most forms of testicular cancer are highly treatable and the survival rate is very good among nearly all stages. In some severe cases, chemotherapy or radiation treatments may be needed.

Testicular cancer is usually slow to metastasize. Tests are usually accurate and painless for most patients. Symptoms of testicular cancer may include enlarged veins within the testicles, pain and soreness, or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. Many affected men are asymptomatic.

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