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Testicular Cancer Causes & Diagnosis

Cause

The exact cause of testicular cancer is unknown, but certain factors can increase your risk of developing this type of cancer. Risk factors include:

  • Having had an undescended testicle
  • Having had abnormal development of the testicles
  • Having a personal history of testicular cancer
  • Having a family history of testicular cancer (especially in a father or brother)
  • Being white

Detection & Diagnosis

Tests that examine the testicles and blood are used to detect (find) and diagnose testicular cancer. The following tests and procedures may be used:

  • Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. The testicles will be examined to check for lumps, swelling, or pain. A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
  • Ultrasound exam of the testes: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.
  • Serum tumor marker test: A procedure in which a sample of blood is examined to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs, tissues, or tumor cells in the body. Certain substances are linked to specific types of cancer when found in increased levels in the blood. These are called tumor markers. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG) tumor markers are used to detect testicular cancer. Tumor marker levels are measured before inguinal orchiectomy and biopsy, to help diagnose testicular cancer.
  • Inguinal orchiectomy: A procedure to remove the entire testicle through an incision in the groin. A tissue sample from the testicle is then viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells. (The surgeon does not cut through the scrotum into the testicle to remove a sample of tissue for biopsy, because if cancer is present, this procedure could cause it to spread into the scrotum and lymph nodes. It's important to choose a surgeon who has experience with this kind of surgery.) If cancer is found, the cell type (seminoma or nonseminoma) is determined in order to help plan treatment.

 

This content is provided by the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov)

Syndicated Content Details:
Source URL: https://www.cancer.gov/publishedcontent/syndication/4590.htm
Source Agency: National Cancer Institute (NCI)

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