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Types of testicular cancer

Determining which treatments to use for testicular cancer may depend on the kind of cells involved. Many types of cells are found in the testicles, all of which can become cancerous. However, two main types of tumors account for most testicular cancers:

Seminoma: Of the two sub-types of seminomas, the classical (typical) seminomas are more likely to occur in men between ages of 30 and 50. Spermatocytic seminomas are less common and are found more frequently in men 55 years and older. However, both types of seminoma tumors may occur in all age groups.

Non-seminoma: Non-seminoma tumors have four main sub-types: embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac carcinoma, choriocarcinoma and teratoma. These tumors generally occur between the teen years and early 40s. They also tend to grow and spread more quickly than seminomas.

Testicular cancer may involve one or both kinds of tumors.

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Stromal tumors are sometimes referred to as gonadal stromal tumors. This is a rare form of testicular cancer, accounting for only about 5 percent of cases. In addition to producing sperm for reproduction, the testicles, or male gonads, are also a component of the endocrine system, a series of hormone-producing glands.

The stromal cells in the testes produce male sex hormones (androgens), like testosterone. Most stromal tumors are benign, meaning the tumor cells typically do not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. However, stromal tumors that do spread sometimes do not respond to conventional treatments, like chemotherapy or radiation. Stromal tumors include leydig cell tumors and sertoli cell tumors.

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