Diagnosing Testicular Cancer

Like other cancers, the individual who has it can detect the presence of testicular cancer by doing a self-examination in which they are looking for lumps. A doctor may also detect a lump while doing a routine examination. If a lump is located during self-examination or by a doctor doing an examination the next step is to determine if the lump is cancerous or not.


The male should examine his testicles during or after his bath or shower, because that is when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed.

Step by step what to do:

  • Hold the penis out of the way and then examine each testicle separately.
  • Hold the testicle between your thumbs and fingers with both hands and roll it gently between your fingers.
  • Look and also feel for any hard lumps or nodules which are smooth rounded masses or any change in the size, shape, or the consistency of your testes.
  • In order to determine if the lump is testicular cancer, an ultrasound may be used or blood tests may be conducted.

A normal small bump that may be felt upon examination is the epididymis, which can be felt on the upper or middle outer side of the testis. Some males may confuse the epididymis, or the blood vessels, or supporting tissues for cancer lumps. Ask your doctor to show you how to conduct a self-examination and point out where these normal bumps/lumps are located so that you are less likely to confuse these for cancer lumps.

Once you have done a few self-examinations you will become familiar with what is normal and what is different. Always report anything that feels different upon doing self-examination.

Doctor Examination:

Doctors should do an examination of your testicles during every general exam.

Your doctor will take a medical history, conduct a physical exam in which the doctor will feel the testicles for any swelling or tenderness as well as to access the size and location of any lumps. The doctor will also fell your abdomen for the presence of any enlarged lymph nodes, which may be a sign that cancer could be present and has spread to the lymph nodes that are to be found in the back of the abdomen.

The doctor may order an ultrasound to help determine if the lump is solid or is fluid filled.

Blood tests are taken to determine levels of certain proteins or tumor markers.

A solid tumor may indicate the need for surgery to remove the entire tumor. A pathologist will then examine the tumor to see if there are any cancer cells present. A report of the pathologists finding will be sent to the doctor.

The doctor makes have others tests done that will check to see if the cancer has spread. These tests are called “imaging” tests and include a chest x-ray, CT scan and also a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI).

Another scan that may be performed is the Positron Emission Tomography (PET). This scan involves injecting glucose into the man’s vein.