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Testicular Cancer Classification

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

The testicles are the two male reproductive organs located in the scrotum and sitting on either side of the penis. These organs produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone, which is crucial for male sexual development.

Types of testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is classified in different ways based on the type of cell the cancer originates in. The different cancer types are described below:

  • Germ cell testicular cancer is the most common form of testicular cancer, accounting for approximately 95% of all cases. Germ cells are the cells from which sperm are created. There are two main subtypes of germ cell testicular cancer:
    • Seminomas, which make up around 40% to 45% of these cancers
    • Non-seminomas, which account for 40 % to 45% of cases

These two forms of cancer tend to respond well to an anti-cancer therapy (chemotherapy), which kills cancer cells.

Other less common types of testicular cancer include:

  • Sertoli cell tumours, which  account for about 1% of cases
  • Leydig cell tumours, which account for about 1% to 3% of cases
  • Lymphoma, which accounts for about 4% of cases

Stage of testicular cancer

Once the type of testicular cancer has been established, the stage of the cancer is determined in order to help plan the optimal treatment and management of the cancer.

Two different staging systems exist and the first is called the TNM system, where:

  • T stands for tumor size
  • N indicates whether nearby lymph nodes are involved
  • M denotes whether the cancer has metastasized (spread)

The cancer is also classified into four numerical stages, where:

Stage I describes a cancer confined to the testicles

Stage II describes a cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis and abdomen

Stage III refers to cancer that has reached lymph nodes in the chest

Stage IV refers to cancer that has spread to another organ.

Reviewed by , BSc

Further Reading

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2014

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