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Tests That Help Evaluate Testicular Cancer

If your doctor finds you have testicular cancer, you may need these tests to help determine the extent of the cancer in the body:

  • A chest X-ray. This test can help tell if the cancer has spread to the lungs or to lymph nodes in the middle of the chest. 

  • A CT scan. For this test, an X-ray beam takes pictures of the inside of your body from many angles. A computer puts these images together, creating a detailed cross-section image. A CT scan can help your doctor learn if your cancer has spread to your lymph nodes in the back part of your abdomen or inside your chest. CT scans play a role in the staging of the cancer. They are also sometimes used to perform a biopsy of a suspected metastasis called a CT guided needle biopsy. 

  • Positron-emission tomography (PET) scan. For this test, a doctor injects radioactive sugar into one of your veins. Cancer cells divide faster than normal cells and use sugar for energy. So cancer cells take up the radioactive material faster than normal cells. A scanner with the use of a special camera finds these radioactive hot spots. This test is most often used with certain types of testicular cancer to see how well treatment has worked.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI). Similar to a CT scan, an MRI takes detailed pictures of the inside of your body, but uses radio waves and magnets instead of X-ray to obtain the images. A computer compiles these images and produces a detailed image of the part of the body being evaluated. An MRI can be more uncomfortable and take more time than a CT scan. MRI is considered specifically useful in evaluating the spinal cord and brain.  

  • Other tests. You may have a CT or MRI scan of your brain, bone scans, or other tests if your doctor suspects the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. When cancer spreads, it is called metastasis.


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