Diagnosis of the testicular cancer begins with the physician. He is probably the first doctor the individual consults in case he observes an abnormality with his testicles. The physician examines the testicles and scrotum to look for signs of cancer.If a lump is suspected, the physician then refers the individual to a urologist for further examination and advice. The urologist also will carry out physical examination to satisfy himself and then ask for diagnostic tests.
Ultrasound -- This uses the sound waves to create a picture of the patient’s testicles. A gel is spread over the scrotum and a device called transducer is passed over the area. The device sends sound waves that echo back when they encounter a dense mass like tumor. The images from the ultrasound are projected on the computer monitor screen. This procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes. It is a painless procedure.
Blood test -- Some types of testicular cancers produce chemicals that are released in the blood. These chemicals are called markers which can be used to know the presence of the cancers. If the blood test result indicates an increase in the level of tumor markers, it is possible that the individual may have testicular cancer. The presence of liver disease and blood disease is also known to increase the level of these tumor markers. The increase in the level of tumor markers is common with nonseminoma and mixed tumors rather than seminoma tumors.
The most common tumor markers are:
- Alpha-fetoprotein: raised in nonseminoma cancers
- Beta human chorionic gonadotrophin: raised in some seminoma and nonseminoma cancers
- Lactate dehydrogenase: raised in seminoma and nonseminoma cancers
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