Making an educated treatment decision begins with the stage, or progression, of the disease. The stage of testicular cancer is one of the most important factors in evaluating treatment options.
Our cancer doctors use a variety of diagnostic tests to evaluate testicular cancer and develop an individualized treatment plan. If you have been recently diagnosed, we will review your pathology to confirm you have received the correct diagnosis and staging information and develop a personalized treatment plan. If you have a recurrence, we will perform comprehensive testing and identify a treatment approach that is suited to your needs.
Testicular cancer staging describes how large a cancer is, whether the disease has spread and whether it is producing tumor markers, in addition to noting the level of those proteins in the serum, or blood. The TNM staging guidelines developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer are often used in testicular cancer staging.
The stages are based on four categories:
T (tumor): This describes whether the tumor has spread to tissues near the testicle.
N (node): This indicates whether the testicular cancer cells have spread to regional lymph nodes.
M (metastasis): This refers to whether the cancer has metastasized (spread to distant areas of the body).
S (serum) This indicates the level of tumor marker proteins in the serum, or blood.
Once the individual T, N, M and S components are scored, they are combined to determine the overall testicular cancer stage group. The stages of testicular cancer are:
Stage 0: The cancer cells have not spread beyond the testicle. At this stage, tumors are also referred to as carcinomas in situ.
Stage I (stage 1 testicular cancer): The cancer has invaded tissues next to the testicle, but has not spread to lymph nodes, or more distant sites in the body. Levels of tumor marker proteins may be normal or elevated. The three subcategories of stage I testicular cancer are:
Stage II (stage 2 testicular cancer): Testicular cancers at this stage have invaded tissues next to the testicle and can now be found in at least one nearby lymph node. Tumor marker levels may be normal or slightly elevated. Stage II testicular cancer has three subcategories:
Stage III (stage 3 testicular cancer): Testicular cancers at this stage have spread to distant lymph nodes or organs. Stage III testicular cancer has three subcategories:
Next topic: How is testicular cancer diagnosed?