What are testicular tumors?
Testicular tumors generally occur in very young boys or in teenagers and young adults. Testicular tumors may be germ cell tumors or stromal tumors.
Germ cell tumors, or tumors that result from the abnormal development of germ cells, are more common. Germ cells are the cells that make up sperm and eggs and are part of our reproductive system.
A stromal tumor is a rare type of testicular tumor. Stromal tumors originate from the supportive tissue of the organ and may lead to hormone production. The two main types of stromal tumors are Leydig cell tumors and Sertoli cell tumors. Stromal tumors usually occur during childhood.
What are symptoms of testicular tumors?
Most boys and young men with testicular tumors notice a lump or sensation of heaviness in the testicle. Testicular tumors sometimes cause elevation in the hormone called beta-HCG, thus testicular tumors can sometimes result in breast enlargement.
Rarely, stromal testicular tumors can cause elevation of female or male sex hormones (androgens or estrogens) causing increased hair or breast enlargement.
Testicular tumors may be seen sporadically (without any underlying process) or in the setting of specific genetic syndromes or cancer predisposition. Men born with undescended testis are also at increased risk for testicular cancer.
How are testicular tumors diagnosed?
Evaluation for testicular tumors starts with a very thorough history, physical examination and family history looking carefully for findings such as signs of early breast development or increased testosterone.
During the initial evaluation for testicular tumors, an ultrasound is commonly ordered. Depending on the results of the ultrasound, additional imaging such as computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are often needed.
If a testicular mass is detected, it is important to obtain blood tests for tumor markers. Other blood tests are ordered as a part of routine care.
How are testicular tumors treated?
At Children’s of Minnesota, testicular tumors are treated using a multidisciplinary team approach including pediatric experts in oncology, surgery and urology. The surgical approach is specifically planned based on concern for tumor or growth.
Children with stage I testicular germ cell or stromal tumors are sometimes treated with surgery alone. Children with more aggressive tumors or tumors that have spread require chemotherapy in addition to surgery.
Careful attention is given to both potential short and long-term side effects of therapy so that children have the best chance for normal fertility and a long and healthy life.
About treatment for testicular tumors at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Our cancer and blood disorders program consistently achieves excellent results ranking it in the top 10 programs in the United States. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota treats the majority of children with cancer and blood disorders in Minnesota and provides patients access to a variety of clinical trials using ground-breaking new treatments. Through our renowned program, patients experience unparalleled family support, a nationally recognized pain management team, and compassionate, coordinated care.
Children’s participates in clinical trials for the management of testicular germ cell tumors. We also house the International Ovarian and Testicular Stromal Tumor Registry that collects information about these rare tumors from all over the world. The registry collects clinical and biologic information to lead to improved treatment and screening for children with these rare tumors.
If you or your child has been diagnosed with a testicular stromal tumor, contact your physician or the registry for more information regarding enrollment.
If you are a family member looking for a Children’s oncologist, please call our clinic at (612) 813-5940.
If you are a health professional looking for consultation or referral information, please call Children's Physician Access at 1-866-755-2121 (toll-free) and ask for the on-call hematologist/oncologist.