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Symptoms of Testicular Cancer
The most common symptoms include:
- Lump or swelling in either testicle
- Pain or discomfort in the testicles or scrotum
- Dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin
- Sudden buildup of fluid in the scrotum
- Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- Testicle feels hard
- Breast tenderness or growth (in rare cases)
Keep in mind that these symptoms can also indicate conditions other than testicular cancer. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if you found a lump, contact your doctor as soon as possible so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated promptly.
Diagnostic Tests for Testicular Cancer
If your doctor suspects testicular cancer, he or she may recommend one or more of the following tests:
- Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to produce images of your testicle(s) to help find any tumors or abnormalities and determine if a lump is solid (more likely to be cancerous) or fluid-filled.
- Blood Tests for Tumor Markers: Testicular cancer cells may secrete certain substances into your body. Your doctor will examine a sample of your blood to measure for abnormally high levels of these substances, known as tumor markers.
- Surgical Biopsy: With testicular cancer, a standard biopsy approach is not typically used, as it can cause cancer cells to spread into the scrotum and lymph nodes. If a solid tumor is present or suspected, your surgeon may remove your entire testicle through an incision in the groin, a procedure called a radical inguinal orchiectomy. A pathologist then examines the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
Staging Testicular Cancer
If testicular cancer is diagnosed, the next step is to determine the extent, or stage, of the disease so your doctor can devise the best course of treatment.
Staging the cancer may involve additional tests, such as blood analysis, chest X-ray, CT scan, MRI and/or PET (positron emission tomography) scan. There are four possible outcomes of the staging process:
- Stage 0: Abnormal cells are found that may become cancer.
- Stage I: Cancer has formed in the testicles but has not spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.
- Stage II: The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the abdomen.
- Stage III: The cancer has spread to distant lymph nodes and/or one or more distant organs, such as the liver, lungs and brain.
Learn more about testicular cancer:
- About Testicular Cancer
- Treating Testicular Cancer
- Testicular Cancer Resources
- Testicular Cancer Clinical Trials
- Our Testicular Cancer Specialists and Staff
For more information about testicular cancer treatment at the Methodist Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call us at 713-790-2700.