Carolinas HealthCare System

Once testicular cancer has been diagnosed, your doctor will determine the cancer’s stage, or how far it’s progressed. Staging will tell your healthcare provider whether the cancer cells have spread within the testicles or to other parts of the body. Staging plays a crucial role in determining the treatment you will receive.

To determine the stage of your cancer, your provider may use any of the following tests and procedures:

  • Chest X-ray
  • CT scan
  • PET scan
  • MRI
  • Abdominal lymph node dissection/lymphadenectomy (surgical removal of the abdominal lymph nodes for analysis)
  • Serum tumor marker is a blood test looking specifically for elevated levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). This test is performed after testicle removal surgery and analysis for staging purposes and to check for any remaining cancer.

Using information received from testing, testicular cancer is staged via a numeric-letter system using numbers 0 through III. For example, in stage I – which is divided into stages IA, IB and IS  – cancer has formed and may have spread to surrounding tissue, blood vessels and lymph nodes. Stages IIIA, IIIB and IIIC mark the most advanced testicular cancers, including cancers that may have spread to abdominal or distant lymph nodes and organs.