After testicular cancer has been diagnosed tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread within the testicles or to other parts of the body. There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body. The stages that are used for testicular cancer are; Stage 0, Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III. Below you will find information on these stages, along with the process of determining the stage.

The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:

  • Chest x-ray: An x-rayof the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
  • CT scan(CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
  • PET scan(positron emission tomography scan): A procedure to find malignant tumor cells in the body. A small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is is injected into a vein. The PET scanner rotates around the body and makes a picture of where glucose is being used in the body. Malignant tumor cells show up brighter in the picture because they are more active and take up more glucose than normal cells do.
  • MRI(magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
  • Abdominallymph node dissection :surgical procedure in which lymph nodes in the abdomen are removed and a sample of tissue is checked under a microscope for signs of cancer. This procedure is also called lymphadenectomy. For patients with non seminoma, removing the lymph nodes may help stop the spread of disease. Cancer cells in the lymph nodes of seminoma patients can be treated with radiation therapy.
  • Serum tumor marker test: A procedure in which a sample of blood is examined to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs, tissues, or tumor cells in the body. Certain substances are linked to specific types of cancer when found in increased levels in the blood. These are called tumor markers The following 3 tumor markers are used in staging testicular cancer: Alpha – fetoprotein (AFP), Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG), and Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).

Tumor marker levels are measured again, after inguinal orchiectomy and biopsy, in order to determine the stage of the cancer. This helps to show if all of the cancer has been removed or if more treatment is needed. Tumor marker levels are also measured during follow-up as a way of checking if the cancer has come back.

The following stages are used for testicular cancer:

Stage 0 (Testicular Intraepithelial Neoplasia)

In stage 0abnormal cells are found in the tiny tubules where the sperm cells begin to develop. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. All tumor marker levels are normal. Stage 0 is also called testicular intraepithelial neoplasia and testicular intra-tubular germ cell neoplasia.

Stage I

In stage Icancer has formed. Stage I is divided into stage IA, stage IB, and stage IS and is determined after an inguinal orchiectomy is done.

All tumor marker levels are normal.

Stage II

Stage II is divided into stage IIA, stage IIB, and stage IIC and is determined after an inguinal orchiectomy is done.

All tumor marker levels are normal or slightly above normal.

  • In stage IIB, cancer is anywhere within the testiclespermatic cord, or scrotum; and either:
    • has spread to up to 5 lymph nodesin the abdomen; at least one of the lymph nodes is larger than 2 centimeters, but none are larger than 5 centimeters; or
    • has spread to more than 5 lymph nodes; the lymph nodes are not larger than 5 centimeters.

All tumor marker levels are normal or slightly above normal.

All tumor marker levels are normal or slightly above normal.

Stage III

Stage III is divided into stage IIIA, stage IIIB, and stage IIIC and is determined after an inguinal orchiectomy  is done.

Tumor marker levels may range from normal to slightly above normal.

The level of one or more tumor markers is moderately above normal.

The level of one or more tumor markers is high or Cancer:

  • is anywhere within the testicle, spermatic cord, or scrotum; and
  • may have spread to one or more lymph nodes in the abdomen; and
  • has not spread to distant lymph nodes or the lung but has spread to other parts of the body.

Tumor marker levels may range from normal to high.

Source: http://www.cancer.gov