Some Testicular Cancers elevate certain substances that are released into the blood by organs, tissues, or tumor cells in the body. These substances are linked to specific types of cancer when found in increased levels in the blood.
The tumor markers that are used to detect testicular cancer are:
Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) – A protein normally produced by a fetus. Alpha-fetoprotein levels are usually undetectable in the blood of healthy adult men or women (who are not pregnant). An elevated level of alpha-fetoprotein suggests the presence of either a primary liver cancer or germ cell tumor. Also called AFP.
Beta Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (ß-HCG) – A hormone found in the blood and urine during pregnancy. It may also be found in higher than normal amounts in patients with some types of cancer, including testicular, ovarian, liver, stomach, and lung cancers, and in other disorders. Measuring the amount of beta-human chorionic gonadotropin in the blood or urine of cancer patients may help to diagnose cancer and find out how well cancer treatment is working. Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin is a type of tumor marker. Also called beta-hCG.
Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH) – LDH is usually not as common in determining testicular cancer but levels can increase and indicate widespread disease. LDH is most often measured to check for tissue damage. LDH is in many body tissues, especially the heart, liver, kidney, muscles, brain, blood cells, and lungs. Other conditions for which the test may be done include: Low red blood cell count (anemia) or cancer.
*Tumor markers are measured before inguinal orchiectomy and biopsy to help diagnose testicular cancer.