Ultrasound scan for testicular cancer

Ultrasound scans use high frequency sound waves to create a picture of a part of the body. They can show up changes, including abnormal growths.

The ultrasound scanner has a microphone that gives off sound waves. The sound waves bounce off the organs inside your body and a microphone picks them up. The microphone links to a computer that turns the sound waves into a picture.

You usually have an ultrasound in the hospital x-ray department.

Why you might have an ultrasound

To test for testicular cancer, you have an ultrasound scan of both testicles and your scrotum.

This can show if there is:

  • a fluid filled cyst that is less likely to be cancer, or
  • a solid lump that is more likely to be cancer

You might have a testicular ultrasound if your doctor cannot feel a lump on your testicle, but you have other symptoms such as:

  • swollen lymph nodes in the back of your tummy (retropertioneal lymph nodes)
  • high tumour marker levels Open a glossary item (hCG or AFP)

What to expect

When you arrive at the clinic the staff might ask you to take your lower clothing off and put on a hospital gown. You lie on a couch for the test.

During the scan

The radiographer puts a cold lubricating gel over your scrotum. Then they put the handheld probe on your skin. The gel helps the probe to move over your skin.

You might feel a little pressure when the radiographer moves the probe. Tell them if it’s uncomfortable or painful.

What happens afterwards

You can eat and drink normally after the test. You can go straight home or back to work afterwards.

Possible risks

This is a very safe procedure but your nurse will tell you who to contact if you have any problems after your test.

Getting your results

You usually get your results within a few weeks of your test. Your specialist will give them to you. Your GP may also receive a copy of the results. 

Waiting for results can be an anxious time. It might be useful to talk to someone close to you.

  • Testicular seminoma and non-seminoma: ESMO-EURACAN Clinical Practice Guideline for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    J. Oldenburg and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2022 Volume 33, Issue 4, pages 362 - 375

  • Cancer Principles & Practice of Oncology (10th edition)
    V T DeVita, Jr, T S Lawrence and S A Rosenberg
    Wolters Kluwer 2015

  • EAU Guidelines on Testicular Cancer
    MP Laguna and others
    European Association of Urology 2021

  • Cancer and its Management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley Blackwell 2015

  • ESMO Consensus Conference on testicular germ cell cancer: diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    F. Honecker and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2018. Volume 29, Issue 8, Pages 1658–1686

Last reviewed: 
06 Feb 2022
Next review due: 
07 Feb 2025

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