Having tests for testicular cancer
There are some tests you might be given by your family doctor (GP) or at the hospital. The tests will help the doctors see whether you have testicular cancer.
Visiting your GP
If you think you might have some of the symptoms of testicular cancer, you should go to your GP. They'll be able to talk to you about your symptoms, and if they think they could be because of cancer they can do tests to find out more.
If your doctor thinks there's a chance you might have cancer, they’ll examine your testicles. They might also arrange for you to have a test called an ultrasound. This uses sound waves to build up a picture of the testicles.
At the hospital
If you need more tests you’ll be referred to a hospital. This could be a general hospital or a specialist cancer hospital.
You'll be seen by a specialist doctor (urologist), who will examine you and do the following tests:
Blood tests. These check for chemicals in the blood called tumour markers. Some testicular cancers (but not all) produce high levels of these. The main tumour markers are called AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) and HCG (human chorionic gonadtrophin).
An ultrasound scan of the scrotum and testicles (if you haven’t already had one). This can usually tell the difference between a cancer and a cyst (a harmless lump filled with fluid).
You’ll need to have both of these tests done to diagnose testicular cancer.
If your ultrasound shows the lump is almost certainly cancer, an operation to remove a testicle (orchidectomy) is done. You’ll only have this operation done if it’s absolutely necessary and your specialist will explain this to you. An expert doctor will examine the removed testicle under a microscope and look for cancer cells. This operation won’t stop you having sex or becoming a dad in the future. You can read more about this operation in our section on treatment for testicular cancer.
If testicular cancer is diagnosed you’ll need some other tests:
More blood tests to check how well organs like your liver and kidneys are working, and to check your tumour markers again.
Chest x-rays to check your lungs are healthy. (This is sometimes done before the operation.)
CT, MRI, or PET scans to find out whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes at the back of your tummy (abdomen), or to anywhere else in your body.
You’ll be seen by a cancer specialist and usually a specialist nurse at a cancer treatment centre to get your test results. The results will help your doctors plan the best treatment for you.
Having tests and waiting for the results can be a scary time. Talking about how you feel and getting support from family, friends, your specialist nurse and doctor can make it a bit easier.
This information is about having tests for testicular cancer. We also have more information about:
If you're looking for information about testicular cancer in men of all ages, please see our general testicular cancer section.