Having tests for testicular cancer

You may have tests done by your GP or at the hospital. The tests will help your doctors see whether you have testicular cancer.

Going to your GP

If you think you might have symptoms of testicular cancer, you should go to your GP. They will be able to talk to you about your symptoms. If they think the symptoms could be because of cancer, they can examine your testicles and do some tests to find out more.

They might arrange for you to have an ultrasound scan. This uses sound waves to take a picture of the testicles.

At the hospital

If you need more tests, you will be referred to a hospital. This could be a general hospital or a specialist cancer hospital.

You will see a specialist doctor (urologist), who will examine you and do the following tests:

  • blood tests to check for chemicals in the blood called tumour markers – some types of testicular cancer produce high levels of these.
  • 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).

Removing a testicle

If the ultrasound scan shows that the lump is very likely to be cancer, your doctor will talk to you about an operation to confirm the diagnosis. The only way to get a definite diagnosis of testicular cancer is to do an operation to remove the whole of the affected testicle (orchidectomy).

You will only have this operation if it is necessary. Your specialist will explain this to you. After the operation, a doctor will use a microscope to look for cancer cells in the testicle.

This may be the only operation you need to treat the cancer. It will not stop you having sex or being able to make someone pregnant in the future.

You can read more about this operation in our section on treatment for testicular cancer.

Further tests

If you are diagnosed with testicular cancer, you will also need some other tests:

  • more blood tests to check the tumour markers again
  • if you are going to have chemotherapy, you will need blood tests to check how well your liver and kidneys are working
  • chest x-rays or CT scans to check your lungs are healthy
  • CT, MRI or PET scans to find out if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes at the back of your tummy (abdomen), or to anywhere else in your body.

A cancer doctor, and usually a specialist nurse, will give you the test results at a cancer treatment centre. The results will help your specialist to plan the best treatment for you.

Having tests and waiting for the results can be an anxious time. It can help to talk about how you feel. You can get support from family, friends, your specialist nurse or your doctor.

If you need more treatment, you will have it at the cancer treatment centre.

Back to Testicular cancer

The testicles

Understanding more about what the testicles do might make it easier for you to talk about them.

Treatment

The main treatments for testicular cancer are surgery and chemotherapy.

Life after treatment

Being diagnosed with testicular cancer can have a big impact on your life, even after you have finished treatment.