5 Things You Need to Know About The Stages of Testicular Cancer

1. What Is Staging?

Doctors use the tests and scans that found your cancer to also decide what stage you are in. Staging refers to how far the cancer has spread; there are two methods of staging testicular cancer. Staging is important in allowing more accurate communication between health care providers as well as helping them decide on a treatment plan. Treatment plans differ according to staging reports.

2. TNM – Tumor, Node, Metastasis

One type of staging method used with testicular cancer is the TNM method. The size of the primary tumor is assessed and categorized into one of five categories with in the “T” stages–the more invasive the tumor is the higher the stage. The “N” stage refers to how far the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes; there are four noted categories here–the bigger the lymph node, the higher the stage. There is also the “M” stage–here they are looking at metastasis, if and how far the cancer has spread through other tissues of the body. The “M” stage has three categories that also advance as the disease process progresses. With testicular cancer there is an additional stage added–the “S” stage–this stage indicates the level of serum tumor markers that are particular to testicular cancer.

3. Numbered Staging Explained

Testicular cancer can be staged by numbers as well. Stage I testicular cancer indicates that the cancer is only in the testicles and not in the lymph nodes or other regions of the body (metastasis). Stage II is involvement of the lymph nodes in the abdomen and the pelvis. Stage II is categorized additionally by “A,” “B” and “C”–progression is according to the size of the lymph node or nodes. If the lymph nodes in the chest or above the collar bone are affected you are considered a stage III. If you have no lymph node involvement but have very high marker levels, you may also be considered a stage III. Stage IV testicular cancer indicates that the cancer has spread to another organ in the body (for example, the lungs). This cancer is considered a secondary cancer.

4. Testicular Cancer can be Cured, Regardless of Stage

Testicular cancer boasts a highly successful treatment rate, regardless of staging or TMN category. Combinations of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are adjusted according to stage to address and successfully eradicate the cancer. Testicular cancer at stage IV is still likely to be treated successfully.

5. Testicular Self Exams

Because the success rate of treating testicular cancer is so high regardless of the stage an individual discovered their cancer, it is unlikely that testicular self exams would alter the mortality rate for the disease. What would probably be affected is the extent of treatment a person would have to endure. If the cancer is found earlier–perhaps by testicular self exam–it is likely to be found in an earlier stage, and require less invasive and rigorous treatment.