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Testicular Cancer
Diagnosis

To help find the cause of symptoms, the doctor will evaluate your general health. Your doctor will perform a physical exam and may order laboratory and diagnostic tests. If a tumor is suspected, your doctor will probably recommend an ultrasound. If a tumor is detected, the testicle is removed.

  • Blood tests — Measures the levels of tumor markers. Tumor markers are substances often found in higher-than-normal amounts when cancer is present. Tumor markers for testicular cancer involve beta human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (B-hCG); alpha-fetoprotein, a blood protein that's present in adults with some forms of cancer; and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), a protein that can be elevated by cancer.
  • Ultrasound — A diagnostic test in which high-frequency sound waves are bounced off tissues and internal organs. Their echoes produce a picture called a sonogram. Ultrasound of the scrotum can show the presence and size of a mass in the testicle. It is also helpful in ruling out other conditions, such as swelling due to infection.
  • Biopsy — If a testicular tumor is suspected based on physical examination, blood tests and ultrasound, the testicle is removed. In nearly all cases of suspected cancer, the entire affected testicle is removed through an incision in the groin. This procedure is called inguinal orchiectomy.

    In rare cases, for example, when a man has only one testicle, the surgeon performs an inguinal biopsy, removing a sample of tissue from the testicle through an incision in the groin and proceeding with orchiectomy only if the pathologist finds cancer cells. (The surgeon does not cut through the scrotum to remove tissue, because if the problem is cancer, this procedure could cause the disease to spread.)

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.