About the disease
Testicular embryonal carcinoma is a cancer that develops in the germ cells of the testicles. These germ cells are the sex cells that are produced by the stem cells, which later turn into sperm cells. This disease is quite common among adolescents and middle aged men, but is most prevalent in men aged between 20-30. It is not likely to develop in infants.
Although the exact cause of testicular embryonal carcinoma has not been identified, a genetic predisposition is believed to be the key factor. Also, certain environmental conditions are considered to be contributing factors. Testicular embryonal carcinomas grow quickly, but are smaller than seminoma, (which also develops in the germ cells) and they have a different pathology.
Testicular embryonal carcinoma is considered to be an aggressive tumor. According to Medscape, about 10-40% of patients with testicular embryonal carcinoma experienced metastasis. The most common site of metastasis of testicular embryonal carcinoma is the peritoneum area. In rare cases, it can spread to the lungs and liver. Most commonly, testicular embryonal carcinoma develops in only one of the testicles.
- Pain in the testicle
- Lump in the testicle
- Swelling of the scrotum
- Blood in the sperm
- Weight loss
- Blood in the stool
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- During a general examination, the doctor will examine the patient’s testicles, to determine whether they are swollen or painful when touched
- The doctor will also check for the presence of a lump by shining a light through the testicle. A healthy testicle will allow light to pass through; a lump will appear as a darkened area.
- A biopsy of the testicle can determine whether or not the germ cells are malignant.
- A blood test can detect an insufficiency of red blood cells, which is usually low in men with testicular embryonal carcinoma.
- An ultrasound of the testicles allows doctors to examine the tumor and establish how large it is.
- The surgical removal of the tumor can prevent it from spreading further. Depending on the stage of the cancer, a testicle may need to be removed as well to prevent metastasis. Losing a testicle usually has no effect on a man’s physical ability to have sex or to have children in the future.
- Chemotherapy is administered before or after the surgery to kill the malignant cells and to shrink the tumor. It is also used to prevent testicular embryonal carcinoma from spreading any further.