For the diagnosis of testicular tumor healthcare providers like a urologist in Lahore recommend testicular self-examination, as well as a medical exam followed by certain investigations. Read on to know more about testicular tumor and how to diagnose it:
What is a testicular tumor?
Testicular tumors occur in the testes, which are the organs in males producing sperms and hormones. Testicles are located at the base of penis, in the scrotal sac. Testicular tumors are rare in occurrence, and most common in men between 15 to 34 years of age.
What is testicular self-examination?
Performing testicular self-examination is one of the best ways to diagnose testicular tumors early. They take only a few minutes to perform and are highly recommended for people with a positive family history of cancer.
At least once a month, a man should perform testicular self-examination. Ideally, this self-examination should be performed while standing, after a hot shower or bath as this relaxes the skin. The steps of self-examination include:
- Checking each testicle: each testicle should be gently and firmly rolled between the forefinger and thumb to feel the whole surface. It is normal for one testis to be larger than the other but both the testes should have the same firmness all around.
- Looking for lumps and bumps that are not normal: normally, testes should have no lumps or other swellings. Even painless lumps are suspicious and need evaluation.
- Pain on examination: certain conditions can cause pain in the testicles, which is not normal. If present, pain needs evaluation for cause and treatment.
- Finding the spermatic cord: in addition to the testes, the spermatic cord or the vas deferens should be examined as well. Spermatic cord is the soft tube-like structure located above and behind each testicle that carries the sperms and fluid to the urethra. You should be familiar with how the cord feels normally, and if there is any swelling in the cord.
- Looking for any change: changes in size, texture or shape should be made note of and evaluated by a healthcare provider. Slight changes are only detectable if you regularly perform self-examination.
The time of diagnosis—early or late—can make all the difference when it comes to treating cancer. Therefore, every man should regularly perform testicular self-examination on a monthly basis.
How is testicular tumor diagnosed?
Apart from testicular self-examination, medical examination is also needed for diagnosis of testicular cancer. The medical exam includes:
- Physical examination: your healthcare provider will start by a thorough medical history, followed by the physical examination of the testicles. They will check the testicles for lumps, bumps, swellings and the inguinal region for swollen lymph nodes. In case you have a history of undescended testes, the healthcare provider should be informed beforehand.
- Ultrasound of the testicles: after physical examination, an ultrasound is performed to see the inside of the scrotum. Suspicious swellings and cysts are best viewed with this modality.
- Blood tests: blood tests can reveal inflammatory markers in the body, as well as high tumor markers, which are proteins and hormones that may be raised in the presence of tumors. Common tumor markers for testicular cancers include: LDH, ACG and AFP. Tumor markers have great importance in diagnosis and prognosis of testicular cancers, however, not all types of testicular cancers result in high markers. For instance, seminomas produce high levels of HCG but not AFP, while non-seminomas can result in both of them.
- Biopsy: a small tissue sample is taken from the testes to check for the presence of cancerous cells.
- Imaging studies: once cancer is diagnosed, imaging studies like CT/MRI of the abdomen, pelvis and chest are ordered to see the extent of the tumor and to check for spread to the other organs.
- Bone scan: testicular tumors spread easily to the bones, which is why bone scans are performed to check for metastasis.
The treatment options for testicular tumors are centered around: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, available at Maroof International Hospital.