Many people come to MSK because they found a lump or swelling in 1 of their testicles. During your first appointment, you will have a thorough exam of your testicles and abdomen.
We will also do blood tests to measure certain protein levels (tumor markers). These markers can tell us if you have tumors and how you will respond to treatment.
Your care team also may order imaging tests, including ultrasounds and computed tomography (CT) scans.
Staging is part of the cancer diagnosis process. It tells us if the cancer has spread, and how far. These tests can help find cancerous tumors and whether they have spread to other parts of your body.
Surgery to find the tumor type
Surgery helps us learn what type of testicular cancer you have. You will have a surgery called an orchiectomy (or-kee-EK-toh-mee). An orchiectomy is a surgery to remove 1 of your testicles. This surgery should not affect your fertility or your ability to get and keep an erection.
After we remove the affected testicle, our pathologists examine the tumor to learn what type it is. A pathologist is a doctor who uses a microscope to diagnose a disease.
We will learn the type of tumor you have, seminoma, nonseminoma, or something less common. This information helps your doctors choose the right treatment for you. It’s an important part of cancer staging.
Some people choose to have a prosthetic (artificial) testicle placed during surgery. A prosthetic testicle is an implant filled with saline. It fills the side of the scrotum where the testicle was.
You may have had an orchiectomy someplace other than MSK. If so, our pathologists can give you a second opinion about your diagnosis. They will examine the tumor tissue to confirm or add to your first diagnosis.
It’s possible you do not have the tumor tissue, or they did not find a tumor during your exam. If so, we may do a biopsy. This is a procedure to take a tissue sample. We can take a sample from lymph nodes in your abdomen (belly) that are not normal, or from another area.
These diagnostic tests may suggest you have a germ cell tumor. The next step is to find out more about the tumor through staging.