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Histology Of Testicular Cancer

Pathologists have investigated the exact histology of testicular cancer and described 5 types of germinal cancers and 7 types of non-germinal cancers among all of the testicular cancers. But if we simplify a bit, we can narrow the majority of testicular cancers into 6 categories as is shown here:

Histological types of testicular cancer and frequency

seminoma : 40% of all cases

embryonal carcinoma : 25%

teratocarcinoma : 25%

teratoma : 5%

choriocarcinoma : 1%

others, more rare types : 4%

It is evident that 90 % of all testicular cancers are actually a seminoma, embryonal carcinoma or teratocarcinoma. Why is this important, why even care? Because each of these cancers has a different quality and tends to behave differently with respect to responding to various therapeutic modalities. For instance, embryonal carcinoma is an immature, rapidly dividing cell type.

It has a tendency to metastasize earlier, but is sensitive to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Seminoma is the most common testicular cancer in the age group of 30 to 40, where about 85% of men who get testicular cancer have this type. It is a well differentiated tumor cell and in about 15% of cases there are other trophoblastic cell elements present, which produce the beta-subunit HCG (beta hcg). This then allows in 15% of cases to monitor for the progress of the disease as it is being treated by watching the HCG levels.



1. Cancer: Principles &Practice of Oncology.4th edition. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott, Philadelphia,PA, 1993. Chapter on Cancer of the Testis.

2. Cancer: Principles&Practice of Oncology. 5th edition, volume 1. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott-Raven Publ., Philadelphia,PA, 1997. Chapter on Cancer of the Testis.

3. Votrin II et al. Drugs Exp Clin Res 2000;26(5-6):267-273.

4. B Aschhoff Drugs Exp Clin Res 2000;26(5-6):249-252.

5. Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

6. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc

Last modified: August 28, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.