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Stages

To work out the stage of your cancer your doctor looks at whether the cancer is only in the testicle or has spread. They also look at the results of your blood tests.

Knowing the stage helps your doctor decide what treatment you need.

S stage

Doctors also look at the level of certain substances (markers) in your blood. The testicles make these substances. But the cancer cells can increase the amount the testicles make. This is the S stage:

  • S0 means markers are at normal levels
  • S1 means markers are slightly raised
  • S2 means markers are moderately raised
  • S3 means markers are very high

Stage 1

Stage 1 is the earliest stage of testicular cancer. The cancer is only in the testicle and hasn't spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage 1 is split into stage 1A and 1B depending on the size of the tumour. Stage 1S means you have raised levels of markers in your blood after surgery.

Stage 2

In stage 2 the cancer cells have spread from the testicle into nearby lymph nodes in your tummy (abdomen) or pelvis. 

You might have normal or slightly raised levels of markers in your blood (S0 or S1).

Stage 2 testicular cancer is split into 2A, 2B and 2C. This depends on how many lymph nodes the cancer has spread to and the size of the lymph nodes.

Stage 3

Stage 3 testicular cancer means that the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs. It is split into 3A, 3B and 3C. These refer to where the cancer has spread and the levels of the markers in the blood. 

Stage 3A

In 3A the cancer has spread to one of the following:

  • distant lymph nodes, for example near the collarbone
  • your lungs

Your marker level may be normal (S0) or slightly raised (S1).

This is a good risk group. It means that the cancer has a low risk of coming back. 

Stage 3B

This can mean one of the following:

  • the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and you have a moderately high marker level (S2)
  • the cancer has spread to your lungs or distant lymph nodes and you have a moderately high marker level

This is an intermediate risk group. The cancer is more likely to come back than in the good risk group.

Stage 3C

This can mean one of the following:

  • the same as stage 3B but you have a very high marker level (S3)
  • your cancer has spread to another body organ, such as the liver or brain. This used to be called stage 4 testicular cancer

Men with a non seminoma cancer who have this are in a poor risk group. The cancer is more likely to come back than the other groups. 

TNM stages

Another way to stage testicular cancer is the TNM system. Doctors don't often use this system in the UK to stage testicular cancer. 

The TNM staging system stands for Tumour, Node, Metastasis.

  • T describes the size of the tumour
  • N describes whether there are any cancer cells in the lymph nodes
  • M describes whether the cancer has spread to a different part of the body
Last reviewed: 
16 Oct 2018
  • Cancer Prinicples & Practice of Oncology (10th edition)

    V T DeVita, T S Lawrence and S A Rosenberg

    Wolters Klumer 2015

  • Cancer and it Management (7th edition)

    J Tobias and D Hochhauser

    Wiley Blackwell 2015

  • Testicular seminoma and non seminoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up
    J Oldenburg and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2013, 24 (supplement 6 ): vi125-vi132

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