Testicular Cancer: Self-Exams at Home
Testicular Cancer: Diagnosis continued...
Doctors frequently perform this test for any abnormal symptoms in the testicle. Ultrasound allows a view inside the scrotum and testicles. Testicular cancer usually looks different (more solid) than other causes of testicular swelling.
Blood Tests: AFP, hCG, LDH
Most testicular cancers release chemicals at abnormal levels into the bloodstream. These tumor markers include:
Elevated levels of these chemicals suggest, but don't prove, the presence of testicular cancer. Also, the absence of elevated levels of these hormones in a patient with a testicular mass does not rule out the presence of a tumor. The pattern of elevation, when present, can help in determining what kind of testicular cancer might be there. Tumor marker levels should fall during treatment, documenting response to therapy.
A biopsy is the only way to reach a definitive testicular cancer diagnosis. In a biopsy, a surgeon removes tissue and a pathologist examines it under a microscope. This usually requires removal of the entire testicle (orchiectomy). Orchiectomy is done because taking only a small tissue sample could spread testicular cancer elsewhere.
Treatment for Testicular Cancer
Treatment for testicular cancer varies widely, depending on the exact type of cancer and the extent of spread.
Orchiectomy, done for diagnosis, removes most or all testicular cancer. What comes next depends on the stage (spread) of cancer. The stage is determined by further tests, and possibly additional surgery.
Treatment can include:
Each man's cancer should be considered unique - and his treatment should too.
Survival Odds for Testicular Cancer
Sheinfeld provides the best news of all for testicular cancer patients. "Fortunately, this is a highly curable disease, even in advanced stages, assuming timely and appropriate treatment," he says. Keep in mind these facts:
- A higher percentage of people survive testicular cancer than almost any other cancer.
- Among those diagnosed most recently, as many as 96 percent survive five years after their diagnosis.
- Even in patients with testicular cancer that has spread widely (metastasized), 70 to 80 percent can expect to be completely cured with modern treatments.
At the same time, "It is important to treat it meticulously and with great caution," adds Sheinfeld. Part of this caution must include close follow-up after treatment. Two to five percent of testicular cancer survivors will develop cancer in the other testicle within 25 years after diagnosis.