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Diagnosis and Treatment of Testicular Cancer

The testicles (also called testes or gonads) are the primary male sex glands, and produce the male hormones and sperm. The testes are enclosed in the scrotal sack behind the penis.

Testicular cancer is cancer that develops in the male testicles.

Types of Testicular Cancer

There are two main types of testicular tumors: seminomas and nonseminomas. Both seminomas and nonseminomas are types of germ ("germ" meaning seed) cell tumors (GCTs) and represent 95% of all testicular cancer. Other extremely rare forms of testicular cancer are classified as sarcomas or lymphomas.

Testicular lymphomas -- more common than primary testicular cancer in men over 50 -- are called secondary tumors because the cancer starts in another organ (the prostate, for example) and then migrates (metastasizes) to the testicle(s).

Seminomas represent about 60% of GCTs. They are made up of immature germ cells, the cells that in a normal case would eventually become sperm. These are slow growing tumors that tend to remain in the testicle for a long period of time.

More than 95% of seminomas are classical (or typical) occurring in men between their late 30s and early 50s. Spermatocytic seminomas occur in men 55 or older, grow very slowly, and tend not to spread to other parts of the body.

Nonseminomas are germ cell cancers that tend to occur in men in their late teens to early 40s. Most nonseminomas have more than one cell type and so are known as “mixed germ cell tumors”.

Nevertheless, there are four primary cell types that are found in most cases of nonseminoma testicular cancer:

Stanford Expertise

The Stanford Cancer Center has brought together the specialists in treating genitourinary cancers through the Stanford Urologic Oncology Program. Urologists, oncologists, and radiation oncologists offer their multidisciplinary approach which can mean a more thorough and convenient way to obtain your treatment.

Your Stanford physician may offer you minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, "nerve-sparing" techniques, stem cell transplantation, bone marrow transplant, and if appropriate, suggest you join an ongoing clinical trial.

Great strides and successes have been achieved in treating testicular cancer at Stanford over the past decade, and the Stanford medical community is actively involved in research on this disease.

Your Stanford physician will discuss with you your desire to maintain fertility after treatment and has a number of options for you to explore with your family, including referral to the highly-regarded Stanford Fertility Center.

Stanford Medicine Resources:

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