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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Testing for Testicular Cancer

Most testicular cancers are found at an early stage by the patients themselves during self-examinations, leading them to seek immediate medical attention. Testicular lumps, which are the primary symptoms, are highly uncomfortable and quite obvious. But some testicular cancers can still linger without symptoms until they’ve spread.

Testicular self-exams are recommended monthly for all adult males, but you may also have them as part of general medical checkups. If you find any irregularities, especially ones associated with pain or discomfort, it is wise to visit your doctor immediately. See here for instructions on performing testicular self-exams.

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Screening is the process of testing for cancer despite the absence of symptoms. There is no recommended screening for testicular cancer that is similar to the battery of tests regularly done for breast and prostate cancer. The first sign of symptoms is usually sufficient for men who may have them to immediately seek medical help and receive tests from the doctor. If testicular cancer is suspected, the following tests may be administered:

Ultrasound

The ultrasound uses sound waves to generate a picture of the inside of the testicles. This is usually the first test done for testicular cancer diagnosis and can be used to see whether the conditions causing the discomfort are benign like hydroceles or varicoceles, or solid tumors that could be cancer. If a solid lump is found, other tests may be recommended.

Blood Tests

Some blood tests can aid in the diagnosis of testicular tumors by measuring the levels of certain proteins called tumor markers, such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). When these tumor markers are elevated in the blood, it suggests the presence of a testicular tumor. The specific type of testicular cancer can also be indicated by the pattern of tumor marker elevation.

Non-seminomas often raise AFP and/or HCG levels, while pure seminomas may occasionally raise HCG levels but never AFP levels. Therefore, any increase in AFP is indicative of a non-seminoma component in the tumor. Sertoli and Leydig cell tumors do not produce these substances. It is important to note that some cancers may be too small to cause elevated tumor marker levels.

In addition to diagnosis, tumor marker tests can be used for other purposes in testicular cancer management. Elevated levels of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), an enzyme, often (but not always) indicate widespread disease, although non-cancerous conditions can also cause increased LDH levels. Tumor marker tests may also be used to help estimate the extent of cancer presence (staging), evaluate treatment response, or monitor for signs of cancer recurrence.

Surgery for Testicular Cancer Diagnosis

For most cancers, a biopsy, which involves removing tissue samples and examining them in a laboratory, is done to ascertain the presence of cancer. However, biopsies are not recommended for testicular cancer due to the risk of spreading the cancer. Instead, doctors often rely on ultrasound and blood tumor marker tests to determine the likelihood of testicular cancer and recommend surgery (radical inguinal orchiectomy) to remove the entire testicle as soon as possible. The removed testicle is then sent to a pathologist who examines the tumor under a microscope and provides a report describing the type and extent of the cancer. In very rare cases where the diagnosis is uncertain, a biopsy may be performed in the operating room before removing the testicle. If testicular cancer is confirmed, the doctor will order imaging tests to check for cancer spread to other parts of the body.

Imaging Tests

Along with ultrasounds, the following imaging tests may also be employed if the doctor is still uncertain of the status or kind of testicular cancer you may have, or if he wants to check for any signs of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Bone scan

If you or a loved one have suffered from a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis for your testicular cancer, contact us at 833-PORTER9, or e-mail us at info@porterlawteam.com to discuss the details of our experience representing other clients and the results we were able to obtain in the past for clients who are suffering as you are. In many ways, our results speak for themselves, and we will stand ready to help you and your family in your time of greatest need.

Last Updated on March 8, 2024 by Michael S. Porter
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