Further Tests for Testicular Cancer

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(or ‘Please, please don’t have spread!’)

If the tests showed that you have testicular cancer, you will have to have further tests to see if it has spread to other parts of the body.

Blood Tests

Some cancers produce chemicals and leave what are called markers in your bloodstream, the three main ones are:

  • AFP - alpha-fetoprotein
  • BHCG - beta human chorionic gonadotrophin
  • LDH - lactic dehydrogenase

If they are present (in my case they never showed up once!) they can be used to check whether there has been any spreading of the cancer and to measure how effective the treatment has been.

You will find that you feel like a pin-cushion and have regular blood tests to check on your well being throughout any treatment.

CT Scan & Chest x-ray

A chest x-ray or Computer Tomography (CT) scan is done to check whether th cancer has spread to either your lungs or the lymph-glands in your abdomen.

The CT scan generates a series of x-rays to make up a 3D picture of the inside of your body. You’ll probably be given a drink beforehand to drink over the period of an hour (don’t down it in one!) - I know it looks foul in the bottle but it’s quite peachy and isn’t all that bad - I frequently referred to it as “um-bongo” (probably wishing I was in the Congo!). You’ll also be injected with a dye whilst you are in the scanner, this enhances the images of the scan. It can make you feel hot all over and give you an urgent need to go to the toilet - resist this urge it won’t make you popular with the radiographers!!

All in all it probably takes an 90 minutes, 60 minutes of um-bongo, 10 minutes getting you into the scanner, 10 minutes for the scan and 10 minutes to get back to the car ;-)

MRI or NMR Scan

The MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanner uses magnetism to build up a picture of the body, again you may be given an injection of dye to enhance the images. You will be asked to lie very still on a couch inside a long chamber for upto an hour (Tell your radiographer if you are claustrophobic!). The scan is very noisy so you will be given earplugs or headphones to wear and can usually take your own music to listen to!

Testing Complete

Once you’ve had some or all of the above tests (I only had bloods and CT scans) the doctors will have a reasonable ide of the type of cancer and what stage it is at (whether it has spread).

The waiting game whilst you wait for these results can seem never-ending but there’s nothing your can do so you might as well get used to it!