Full vials of blood near various medical equipment for taking blood.

Which Lab Tests Can Detect Testicular Cancer?

Doctors utilize specialized blood tests to facilitate the early detection of cancer, particularly in anatomical regions such as the ovaries and testicles that pose challenges for visual identification. These tests analyze certain chemical compounds present in the blood to determine the presence of cancer. PSA, a molecule associated with prostate cancer, can occasionally provide indications of testicular cancer. Abnormal levels of testosterone and estradiol, either too high or excessively low, may indicate the presence of cancer, enabling doctors to detect it at an early stage and initiate therapy.

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Laboratory tests are critical in the early identification and therapy of cancer, with a major impact on outcomes and survival rates. Specific laboratory tests are critical diagnostic tools for ovarian and testicular malignancies, which frequently present with ambiguous symptoms or go undetected until late stages. These tests can detect cancer-related indicators or anomalies, allowing for earlier intervention and more individualized treatment approaches.

Male Hormone Test

PSA is the most often used marker for prostate cancer. It is a protein generated by both malignant and noncancerous cells in the prostate, a male reproductive gland unrelated to the testicles.

PSA levels are rarely utilized to diagnose or monitor testicular cancer since the testicles do not produce PSA.

Full vials of blood near various medical equipment for taking blood.

However, in rare cases, certain forms of testicular cancer may indirectly impact PSA levels, particularly if the disease has metastasized (spread) to the prostate or if there is a secondary effect on prostate health.1 Nonetheless, this is an unusual case and not a routine diagnostic approach for testicular cancer.

The major male sex hormone is testosterone, which is generated mostly in the testicles. It has a significant impact on male health by altering libido, bone density, fat distribution, muscular mass and strength, and red blood cell and sperm production.

Some testicular cancers, particularly Leydig cell tumors, can produce an overabundance of testosterone.2 An unexpected increase in testosterone levels may consequently indicate the existence of such malignancies. Conversely, if a tumor interferes with the normal functioning of the testicles, it may result in diminished testosterone levels, presenting as symptoms such as tiredness, decreased libido, or infertility, prompting further inquiry for testicular cancer.

Estradiol is a kind of estrogen, a hormone more typically linked to female reproductive health. However, it also has a significant impact on male health, influencing libido, erectile function, and sperm production.

Some testicular cancers, like testosterone, may produce hormones such as estradiol. This is especially true for some germ cell tumors. In men, elevated estradiol levels can cause symptoms such as gynecomastia (the growth of breast tissue) and infertility.3 While not a clear indicator of testicular cancer, abnormal estradiol levels might indicate an underlying problem with the testes that requires additional investigation.

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Conclusion

While PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen), testosterone, and estradiol are not main diagnostic tools for testicular cancer, they can give useful indirect information that might indicate the existence of cancer or alter the approach to additional testing. PSA, while predominantly related with prostate health, may provide insights into testicular disease processes in extremely rare cases, particularly if cancer has metastasized. Elevated testosterone levels can indicate particular testicular cancers, such as Leydig cell tumors, which generate excessive hormones, allowing for the early diagnosis of cancer by hormonal imbalance. Similarly, abnormal estradiol levels in men might be symptomatic of testicular cancers that release estrogens, necessitating further diagnostic tests.

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Lab Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to do lab tests occasionally?

It is important to do lab tests occasionally because they can provide valuable information about an individual's health and help to identify potential health issues early on. Lab tests can measure a wide range of factors, including blood count, cholesterol levels, liver and kidney function, and hormone levels, and can provide insight into an individual's overall health and wellness. Additionally, lab tests can help to diagnose and monitor the progression of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and can help to identify any potential health risks or concerns. By doing lab tests occasionally, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain their health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of potential health problems in the future.

What does a routine blood test cover?

A routine blood test is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. Blood tests can also be used to check how well certain organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are functioning.

How is a blood sample collected for lab testing?

A blood sample for lab testing is typically collected through a process called venipuncture, which involves inserting a small needle into a vein to draw blood. This is usually done on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

What is the cost of a lab test?

In general, the cost of a lab test can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It is always best to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to get an accurate estimate of the cost of a lab test.

Read More: Lab Testing FAQ

References

[1] Josefson D. - High PSA levels may show body is fighting cancer;

[2] Pomajzl AJ. - Leydig Cell Cancer;

[3] Swerdloff RS - Gynecomastia: Etiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment;