What is testicular cancer?
Testicular cancer is a malignant growth of cells of the testicle. Testicles are the male gonads. There are usually two testicles, they lie in the scrotal sac and their job is to produce the male sex hormone testosterone and to produce sperm from puberty onwards. Testicular cancer is a disease of young men; it is very rare in men over 50.
Most testicular cancers are germ cell tumours (GCT).
There are two main types of these:
- non-seminomas or non-seminomatous germ cell tumours (NSGCT), these used to be called ‘teratomas’
- Sometimes a mixture of these two cell types can be seen under the microscope, these are called ‘mixed’ tumours and the treatment and prognosis is the same as for non-seminomatous germ cell tumours (NSGCT)
Other types of testicular cancer include lymphomas, sertoli cell tumours and malignant leydig cell tumours. These are very rare and their treatment is not covered in this guidance.
The names of some germ cell tumours of the testicle are -:
Seminoma cell types:
- Seminoma - a tumour comprised of 100% seminoma type cells
Non-seminoma (NSGCT) cell types and examples of mixed types:
- Germ cell neoplasia
- Embryonal carcinoma
- Yolk sac tumour
- Embryonal carcinoma and teratoma with or without seminoma
- Embryonal carcinoma and yolk sac tumour with or without seminoma
- Embryonal carcinoma with seminoma
- Yolk sac tumour and teratoma with or without seminoma
- Choriocarcinoma and any other element
Testicular cancer affects almost 2000 men per year in the UK. The histology and stage of the testicular cancer at the outset gives a good indication of long term prognosis and treatment required. Survival rates are very good even for men whose disease has spread (over 80%). Five year survival for all men with testicular cancer is 95%
Amended April 2008