A testicular tumor is a growth on the testicles. These are germ-cell
tumors that can present as either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant
cell tumors are masses of tissue formed by immature cells that normally
would have developed into mature eggs (in a female) or sperm (in a male).
Ninety percent of germ cell tumors are gonadal, which means they begin in the
reproductive cells of the testes or ovaries.
Many testicular tumors are benign. While they may grow in
their original location, they do not often spread to other parts of the body.
However, some testicular tumors can grow aggressively and metastasize (spread) to
other parts of the body, most commonly to the lymph nodes, lungs, liver and
central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.
Children, teens and young adults with testicular tumors are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston
Children's through our Solid
Tumor Center. Our treatment
team includes medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, and pediatric
subspecialists, including urologists, who have specialized expertise in
treating all types of germ cell tumors, including testicular tumors.
Because of their unique expertise
in treating these types of tumors, our
urologists can help identify and, when possible, avoid potential
side effects – such as infertility, sexual dysfunction or incontinence – that may
result from cancer treatment. We also offer procedures that can help preserve
fertility, including harvesting stem cells.
Successfully treating your son's testicular tumor depends on
its size and whether it is benign or malignant. Doctors at Dana-Farber/Boston
Children's will classify your son's tumor as one of the following types:
Testicular tumors are often noticed when a growth develops on one of the
testes. Keep in mind that the symptoms of a testicular tumor may resemble other
more common conditions or medical problems. It is important to consult your
child's physician for a diagnosis.
Testicular tumor symptoms may include:
As a parent, you undoubtedly want
to know what may have caused your child’s tumor.
Doctors do not completely understand the cause of most testicular tumors. There’s
nothing that you could have done or avoided doing that would have prevented the
tumor from developing. It’s important to understand that these and other tumors
most often occur with no known cause.
Scientists do know that certain germ-cell tumors can
be associated with a number of other inherited defects of the central nervous
system, genitourinary tract and lower spine. And boys with undescended
testicles have an increased risk of developing certain germ cell tumors.
The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate
and complete diagnosis. Most testicular tumors are first noticed by the patient
himself, his parent or his physician as a non-tender swelling in the scrotum.
Most of these scrotal masses, though, result from much more
common problems like hernia, hydrocele, testicular torsion or inflammation of
the epididymis. Your
child's doctor will usually be able to distinguish a testicular tumor from
these more common conditions through an examination.
In addition, your child’s physician may perform or order a
number of different tests including:
it is determined to be a tumor, your child will receive these additional tests:
There may be other diagnostic tests that your doctor will discuss with
you depending on your child's individual situation. After we complete all
necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned
about your child's condition. Then we will meet with you and your family to
discuss the results and outline the best possible treatment options.
physician will determine a specific course of treatment based on several
factors, including your son's age, overall health and medical history as well
as the size and malignancy of the tumor.
Testicular tumors, whether benign or
malignant, are usually removed. Your child's treatment will almost always
your son's testicular tumor is malignant, treatment may also include:
It is important to note that treatment for testicular tumors may affect
fertility. Before your son begins treatment, talk with your doctors about whether
his fertility is likely to be impacted – and if so, whether fertility
preservation options, such as sperm banking, should be considered.
Various germ cell
tumor research studies are underway to help build our understanding of how
treatment types and dosages can be modified according to the tumor sub-type,
stage, location on the body and the age and gender of the child – to provide
the best possible outcome.
Due to the rarity of germ cell tumors in
children, however, statistically meaningful data with multivariate analysis is
difficult to achieve. To address that, the Malignant Germ Cell International
Collaborative (MaGIC) was formed. This consortium, led by A.
Lindsay Frazier, MD, a pediatric oncologist at Dana-Farber/Boston
Children’s, is a collaboration of the world’s experts in germ cell tumors, including
pediatric, gynecologic and genito-urinary oncologists.
For many children
with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, including testicular germ cell tumors,
clinical trials – research studies evaluating new treatment approaches – provide
Participation in any
clinical trial is completely voluntary. We will take care to fully explain all
elements of the treatment plan prior to the start of the trial, and you may
remove your child from the medical study at any time.
prognosis for benign testicular tumors is usually very good, with minimal if
any long-term complications. If one testicle remains, fertility
will be preserved, so your son will still be able to father children.
The prognosis for a malignant tumor can vary
greatly from individual to individual and depends heavily on the extent of the
disease. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important.
Continual follow-up care is equally essential to monitor for side effects of
radiation and chemotherapy, as well as second malignancies.
treated for a testicular tumor should visit a cancer
survivorship clinic every year to manage disease complications, screen for recurrence and manage late
treatment side effects. A typical follow-up visit is likely to include a
physical exam, laboratory testing and imaging scans.
B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber provides care and
advocacy for survivors of childhood cancer, conducting research on the
long-term effects of cancer treatments, and offering education and support for
survivors of cancer. In addition to meeting with your pediatric oncologists, your child may see one of our
endocrinologists, cardiologists, neurologists, neuro-psychologists or
alternative/complementary therapy specialists. We also offer patient and family education, psychosocial assessment, genetic
counseling, reproductive and fertility evaluation and counseling and
opportunities to speak with other childhood cancer survivors.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Dana-Farber/Boston Children's the #1 pediatric cancer hospital in the nation.