Stages of testicular cancer

The stage of a cancer describes its size and whether it has spread beyond where it started.

What is staging?

The stage of a cancer is a term used to describe:

  • its size
  • whether it has spread from where it started.

Knowing the stage of the cancer helps the doctors decide on the best treatment for you.

There are several staging systems for testicular cancer. One commonly used system in the UK is the Royal Marsden staging system. We have given a simple version of this below.

We understand that waiting to know the stage of your cancer can be a worrying time. We're here if you need someone to talk to. You can:

Stage 1 testicular cancer

The cancer may be any size and is only in the testicle.

These cancers are divided further into different groups depending on whether tumour markers stay raised after surgery.

Stage 2 testicular cancer

The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes at the back of the tummy (abdomen), called the retroperitoneal lymph nodes.

These cancers are divided further into different groups depending on:

  • the size of the tumour
  • the lymph nodes affected
  • the level of tumour markers.

Stage 3 testicular cancer

The cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the chest, or higher up. For example, these could be lymph nodes in your armpit or neck.

These cancers are divided further into different groups depending on:

  • the size of the tumour
  • the lymph nodes affected
  • the level of tumour markers.

Stage 4 testicular cancer

The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs. When the cancer spreads, it is known as metastasis.

About our information

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    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Jim Barber, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.

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We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We try to make sure our information is as clear as possible. We use plain English, avoid jargon, explain any medical words, use illustrations to explain text, and make sure important points are highlighted clearly.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected. Our aims are for our information to be as clear and relevant as possible for everyone.

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