Basics of Testicular Cancer


If you have any concerns or notice any changes in one of your testicles, please speak to a doctor. Most lumps within the scrotum are not cancerous, but it’s important to get checked as soon as possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Treatment for Testicular Cancer is much more effective when started early. During your appointment, as well as asking you about your symptoms and looking at your medical history, a doctor will usually need to do a physical examination on your testicles. This is a quick, simple, and painless process. You can often ask to have a male or female GP perform the check. If you have a non-painful swelling or lump, or a change in the shape or texture of 1 of your testicles, and a GP thinks it may be cancerous, you'll be referred for further testing within 2 weeks. Some of the tests you may have are described below.
Scrotal Ultrasound
A scrotal ultrasound scan is a painless procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your testicle. It's 1 of the main ways of finding out whether or not a lump is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). During a scrotal ultrasound, your specialist will be able to determine the position and size of the abnormality in your testicle. It'll also give a clear indication of whether the lump is in the testicle or separate within the scrotum, and whether it's solid or filled with fluid. A fluid-filled lump or collection around the testis is usually harmless. A more solid lump may be a sign the swelling is cancerous.
Blood Tests
To help confirm a diagnosis, you may need a series of blood tests to detect certain hormones in your blood, known as markers. Testicular cancer often produces these markers, so it may indicate you have the condition if they're in your blood. Markers in your blood that'll be tested for include:
  • alpha feto-protein (AFP)
  • human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG)
A third blood test is also often carried out as it may indicate how active a cancer is. It's called lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), but it's not a specific marker for testicular cancer. Not all people with testicular cancer produce markers. There may still be a chance you have testicular cancer even if your blood test results come back normal.