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Symptoms & Diagnosis

Wilmot Cancer Institute provides the full spectrum of testicular cancer care, from initial diagnosis and treatment to recovery and rehabilitation. Testicle malignancies are in a group known as genitourinary (GU) cancers, and Wilmot offers the most comprehensive, advanced care for GU cancer in the Finger Lakes region.

We work in multidisciplinary teams. "Multidisciplinary" means that our care providers include experts with a variety of specialties: surgeons, urologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, nurse practitioners, social workers, and clinical researchers. They work together on your case to provide the most personalized care possible.


Getting an accurate diagnosis is essential to getting the best treatment. Testicular cancer can often be found early because men can detect a lump or pain in their testicle, which are the main symptoms. Our experts recommend that men perform self-examinations and report anything unusual to a doctor immediately. Other symptoms might include a build-up of fluid in the scrotum and aches in the groin or lower abdomen.

Rarely, testicular cancer causes breast growth or soreness in the breast area. In advanced cases, the symptoms are low back or belly pain, shortness of breath, headaches.

How is testicular cancer diagnosed?

  • Medical history and physical examination, which includes a complete medical history and assessment of risk factors and health habits. The physical exam will include feeling the testicles for lumps, swelling, or pain.
  • Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to produce pictures of internal organs and structures. It is very useful for diagnosing testicular cancer. 
  • Blood tests, which involve collecting blood and tissue to look for tumor markers and enzymes that indicate cancer might be present. Testicular cancer can make high levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) or human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).
  • Inguinal orchiectomy, a surgical procedure, similar to a biopsy, which removes the entire testicle through an incision in the groin. The tissue is then examined by a pathologist. A less-invasive biopsy is not done because of fear of spreading the cancer to the scrotum and lymph nodes.
  • Imaging, which includes x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans to give doctors detailed pictures of the area.