When you are diagnosed with testicular cancer, it is important to know what type you have as it can make a big difference in how it is treated. Your doctor will likely order more tests to determine the type you have so both of you can come up with a plan for successful treatment of it.
Approximately 95% of testicular cancer cases start in the germ cells that produce the sperm. These germ cells are also known as undeveloped cells as they have not completely formed into something else. The tumors found in testicular cancer are called germ cell tumors or GCTs and these can be found predominately in males from 20 to 40 years of age. Luckily, a majority of these cases are curable.
Of these germ cell tumors, there are two primary forms the nonseminomas and the seminomas. A third kind also exists called a stromal tumor which is actually found forming outside the testicle, in surround tissues.
The Seminoma Variety
Four out of ten testicular cancer cases caused by germ cell tumors are of the seminoma variety. Of this particular type, they are then labeled spermatocytic or typical. Of the two, nine out of ten seminoma cases are of the typical variety.
One of the most common manifestations of this type of testicular cancer is either one testicle swelling or even the formation of a bump on it. However, with the spermatocytic type of seminoma testicular cancer, these are slow growers and likely will not form until later in life, like the mid 60’s to the 70’s. Plus they are usually isolated to the testicle and do not migrate to other parts of the body.
The Nonseminoma Variety
Around 60% of the germ cell tumors that cause testicular cancer are of the nonseminoma variety. Young males from their teens all the way to the mid 30’s are often affected. There are about four different subclasses of the nonseminoma type of cancer and men who have it will typically exhibit at least two of them. Here are the possible subclasses:
1. Yolk sac carcinoma
2. Embryonal carcinoma
As mentioned above, there is also the stromal tumor which is an indicator of testicular cancer. This type of cancer occurs in only about 5% of diagnosed males with 20% of them being younger boys. Of the stromal tumors, there are two kinds the Sertoli cell tumor and the Leydig cell tumor.
Most Leydig tumors are benign and can be removed successfully with surgery. However, the bad news is that should this type of tumor be caught in a metastasized state, it does not respond well to treatment such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The Sertoli cell tumors that cause testicular cancer are normally also benign but share the same predicament as the Leydig tumors should it become metastasized.
In review, most testicular cancer cases form in those germ cells that manufacture the sperm, although there is a small percentage that forms in the surrounding tissues. Knowing what type you have will be instrumental in creating a successful treatment plan.