To diagnose testicular cancer, NYU Langone doctors take a medical history and perform a physical exam, including a check of the scrotal area for pain, tenderness, or lumps. Your doctor may also order blood tests or imaging tests, such as an ultrasound.
Doctors almost never biopsy a testicle to diagnose testicular cancer, because it may complicate future treatment. Surgery to remove the testicle is the standard method to confirm a diagnosis of cancer.
An ultrasound of the scrotum and testicles uses sound waves to create images that are viewed on a computer monitor. These images can help the doctor determine where a tumor is located in the testicle, how large it is, and whether it is likely to be benign or cancerous.
A simple blood test performed in the doctor’s office may be used to identify tumor markers, substances made by a cancer that are found in the blood. Abnormally high levels of tumor markers, such as beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (BHCG), alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), may indicate the presence of testicular cancer.
A CT scan uses X-rays and a computer to create three-dimensional, cross-sectional images of the body. Your doctor may perform CT scans of your pelvis, abdomen, and chest to see if cancer has spread beyond the testicles. Sometimes, a special dye called a contrast agent is injected into the bloodstream to enhance the detail on the CT image.
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