Further tests after a testicular cancer diagnosis
If you have received a definite diagnosis of testicular cancer, your specialist will arrange for you to have further tests.
These further tests are done to find out if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The results help your doctors decide on the best treatment for you.
Occasionally, some men with testicular cancer that has spread are diagnosed when scans are carried out to investigate their symptoms. You may have some of the following tests:
After your orchidectomy, you’re likely to have further blood tests to re-check the levels of any tumour markers, particularly if they were raised before your surgery.
Other blood tests may be taken to check how well organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are working.
CT (computerised tomography) scan
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A CT scan takes a series of x-rays, which build up a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body. It may be done to check for any signs the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the abdomen or elsewhere in the body.
The scan takes 10–30 minutes and is painless. It uses a small amount of radiation, which is very unlikely to harm you and will not harm anyone you come into contact with.
You will be asked not to eat or drink for at least four hours before the scan.
You may be given a drink or injection of a dye, which allows particular areas to be seen more clearly. This may make you feel hot all over for a few minutes.
It’s important to let your doctor know if you are allergic to iodine or have asthma, because you could have a more serious reaction to the injection.
You’ll probably be able to go home as soon as the scan is over.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan
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This test uses magnetism to build up a detailed picture of areas of your body. The scanner is a powerful magnet, so you may be asked to complete and sign a checklist to make sure it’s safe for you.
The checklist asks about any metal implants you may have, such as a pacemaker, surgical clips or bone pins.
You should also tell your doctor if you’ve ever worked with metal or in the metal industry, as very tiny fragments of metal can sometimes lodge in the body.
If you do have any metal in your body, it’s likely that you won’t be able to have an MRI scan. In this situation another type of scan can be used.
Before the scan, you’ll be asked to remove any metal belongings including jewellery. Some people are given an injection of dye into a vein in the arm, which doesn’t usually cause discomfort. This is called a contrast medium and can help the images from the scan to show up more clearly.
During the test, you’ll lie very still on a couch inside a long cylinder (tube) for about 30 minutes. It’s painless but can be slightly uncomfortable, and some people feel a bit claustrophobic. It’s also noisy, but you’ll be given earplugs or headphones. You can hear, and speak to, the person operating the scanner.
Waiting for test results
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Waiting for test results can be a difficult time. It may take from a few days to a couple of weeks for the results of your tests to be ready. You may find it helpful to talk with your partner, family or a close friend. Your specialist nurse or a support organisation can also provide support.
You may find it helpful to speak to one of our cancer support specialists.