How exactly is testicular cancer diagnosed?

Written by: Mr Ahmed Ali
Edited by: Conor Lynch

We recently spoke to highly revered consultant urological surgeon, Mr Ahmed Ali, to find out what the main warning signs of testicular cancer are, whether or not it is curable, and what exact steps are involved in the diagnosis.

What are the main warning signs to look out for in relation to testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is a very rare form of cancer. It mainly occurs in men between the ages of 20 and 50 years old. Usually, the main sign is finding a lump in one testis, incidentally, during examination.


Occasionally, men also present with pain or general discomfort in their testis, a feeling of heaviness, and sometimes noticing certain changes in the scrotum. These are certainly all warning signs of testicular cancer.


How exactly is testicular cancer diagnosed?

So, most men actually know when they could have testicular cancer. The majority of men feel the lump, and once they find it, they will present this to their doctor, who will then undertake an examination, and hereafter refer them accordingly.


Once they come to see a specialist, a series of blood tests will be carried out, including tumour markers, that are very helpful in the diagnosis. We also perform a very urgent ultrasound scan to either make an accurate diagnosis, or rule out testicular cancer. Occasionally, we might send the patient for a CT scan, just to check if they don’t have any secondary effects.


What are the main causes and risk factors?

There are no real causes of testicular cancer, but there are plenty of risk factors. The main risk factor is what we called undescended testis. This occurs when the testis does not descend during birth.


Other risk factors include exposure to radiotherapy and chemicals, but usually, it is undescended testis that is the main cause that we look for.


When should surgery be considered?

When it comes to testicular cancer, surgery is the main cure, and is considered in nearly all testicular cancer cases. In an extreme minority of patients, where they present with severe metastatic testicular cancer (where the cancer has spread to other organs and is causing life-threatening symptoms), chemotherapy will be the first course of action for these particular patients.


Is testicular cancer curable?

Luckily, testicular cancer is a very curable condition. More than 95 per cent of men with the cancer will be clear within a timeframe of five years. Even in the highest risk/latest stage scenario, the cure rate is 60 per cent, thanks to chemotherapy agents being used.


Mr Ahmed Ali can certainly guide you in the right direction when it comes to ruling out or diagnosing testicular cancer, and can offer the most suitable treatment option for this. Consult with him today if you are worried about any symptoms that could potentially be related to testicular cancer by visiting his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Ahmed Ali

Mr Ahmed Ali is a highly experienced consultant urological surgeon who specialises in bladder cancerprostate cancerbenign prostatic enlargementkidney stonestesticular cancer, as well as urinary tract infections, amongst many other urological-related conditions.

He currently practises at the highly prestigious The London Clinic hospital where he consults patients from both overseas and the UK. He also practices in Surrey at The Parkside Suite (Frimley Park Hospital), and the Circle Mount Alvernia Hospital in Guildford. He also recently joined the men’s health team at OneWelbeck in London, a clinic that provides a holistic approach to men’s health including prostatebladder, and andrology health check using cutting edge technology. He is the current lead for bladder cancer services at the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust’s urology department, the founder of the Arab British Urological Society, as well as being a consultant urologist at Urology Partners LLP.

He is an expert when it comes to urological oncology, and is highly qualified in relation to every aspect of urological-related diseases. He qualified as a doctor in 2005 after successfully completing an MBChB in medicine at the distinguished University of Baghdad. He moved to the UK and started training as a junior doctor in 2007, which allowed him to go on to obtain a master's degree in urology in 2013 from the University College London.

Ahmed started his urological training at St James Hospital in Leeds and subsequently undertook a fellowship at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. During his fellowship, he studied the role of MRI in the diagnosis of prostate cancer which is now the main method of prostate cancer diagnosis. Furthermore, he completed 5 years of higher urological training at the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Deanery by completing the FRSC Urol exam in 2017.

Upon his appointment as a consultant at the outstanding Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust in October 2017, Mr Ali was responsible for managing the bladder cancer services in the trust. In the past 5 years, Mr Ali has impressively introduced multiple new cutting-edge technologies in the management of bladder cancer. He introduced the use of radiofrequency-induced hyperthermia treatment for high-risk non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, and the use of laser in removing bladder cancer lesions with minimal blood loss. In addition, he regularly trains more junior urologists in using modern technologies in the diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer.

After the COVID pandemic, Mr Ali started a new mobile service to help other Trusts in the UK deal with their long wait in treating urological cancers. He regularly undertakes and trains doctors in prostate diagnostic procedures. He follows the pathway of using MRI scan, followed by biopsies, using the fusion method to accurately diagnose prostate cancer using the precision point technique. This ensures accurate diagnosis of the type and grade of prostate cancer with minimal side effects, such as infection and pain.

With regard to education, Mr Ali is the consultant lead for simulation education at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust. He has been involved in multiple successful programmes at the trust which involve simulation training. He also is a chief investigator in an NIHR study looking for a biomarker for the treatment of overactive bladder syndrome. 

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