What Are the Different Testicular Cancer Stages?

Lynda Lampert

There are three testicular cancer stages that doctors use to determine the severity of a cancer's progress. Stage I of testicular cancer is found only in the testicles of the patient. In stage II, the cancer has moved beyond the male reproductive system to the lymph nodes of the abdomen. Stage III means the malignancy of testicular cancer has spread well beyond the lymph nodes of the abdomen and has metastasized to organs as far away as the liver or lungs. Each of the three testicular cancer stages can be divided into three sub-stages of malignancy as well.

Surgery is a typical treatment option for early stage testicular cancer patients.
Surgery is a typical treatment option for early stage testicular cancer patients.

Stage IA means that the cancer is found in the testicle and a coiled tube called the epididymis, extending only to the inner membrane surrounding the testicle. In stage IB of the testicular cancer stages, it has spread to a certain part of the genital area, such as the testicles' blood vessels, outer membrane or lymph vessels, or even the scrotum or spermatic cord. Stage IC means the carcinoma has spread to anywhere in the scrotum, testicle or spermatic cord, and the tumor marker levels are elevated.

Treatment of testicular cancer may require the removal of the tumor and one or both of the testicles.
Treatment of testicular cancer may require the removal of the tumor and one or both of the testicles.

In stage IIA, the cancer is found in five lymph nodes of the abdomen, with none larger than 0.8 inches (2 cm). Stage IIB means at least one node is larger than 0.8 inches (2 cm), but none are larger than 2 inches (about 5 cm), or that it has spread to more than five lymph nodes and none are larger than 2 inches (about 5 cm). If the carcinoma has spread to a lymph node in the abdomen that is larger than 2 inches (about 5 cm), then it is considered to be stage IIC of the testicular cancer stages.

Stage IIIA means that the cancer is found in the lymph nodes of the lungs or distant lymph nodes, and tumor markers are normal to a little above normal. In stage IIIB, the cancer has spread to the lungs or distant lymph nodes, and the tumor markers are somewhat elevated. Stage IIIC means that the cancer has spread, and the tumor markers are high. This stage, the most severe of the testicular cancer stages, might be reserved for cases in which the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, not just the lungs.

Rarely, testicular cancer can cause swelling of the testicles.
Rarely, testicular cancer can cause swelling of the testicles.

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