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If your blood test is positive for testicular cancer tumor markers, or if your ultrasound reveals a cancerous-appearing lump in your testicle, you will be referred to a specialist called a urologist. Urologists are surgeons who focus on the urinary tracts of males and females, and on the reproductive system of males, including problems with the testicles. For patients with testicular cancer, a urologist will perform the surgery to remove your tumor.
Unlike other cancers for which a biopsy (the removal of a sample of cells for examination) is performed, when testicular cancer is suspected the entire testicle is removed in a procedure called an orchiectomy through an incision in the groin and pulling the testicle up from the scrotum. A biopsy through the scrotum for testicular cancer runs the risk of spreading the cancer, and can complicate future treatment options. Removing the entire testicle out of the scrotum is the only safe way to diagnose for testicular cancer. Only the cancer-containing testicle is removed, and it is important to do so promptly. Our urology team will make this a priority for you. If there is any uncertainty, the urologists can examine the testicle by pulling the testicle out of the scrotum; if a condition other than testis cancer is found, the testicle is placed back into the scrotum.
This may sound frightening, but recovery is quick. And do not worry — the remaining testicle can do the work of two. Please understand that removal of the testicle will not make you sterile (unable to have children) and does not take away your ability to enjoy sexual activity or have an erection.
The removed testicle will be sent to our pathology laboratory for a thorough examination under a microscope. A pathologist is a specially trained doctor who identifies cancerous cells and tumors. DF/BWCC pathologists are well-known for their expert evaluation of testicular cancer. They will diagnose and classify your cancer quickly and competently.
Most testicular cancers are classified as germ cell tumors. This is not an infection. Instead, the term germ cell reflects the fact that testicles make sperm. Germ cell tumors are divided into two types: seminoma and nonseminoma.
In order to decide what treatment is best for you, it is important to know whether or not your testicular cancer has spread beyond the testicle. Another kind of scan can be used to look for cancer in other parts of the body:
Our experienced radiologists will review your scans to help determine the stage of your cancer.
Testicular cancer is divided — or staged — into groups based on how far the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Here are the basic stages for testicular cancer:
Find out more about testicular cancer and staging from the National Cancer Institute and view other testicular cancer resources from the American Cancer Society.