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Types

The type of cancer depends on which type of cell it started in. Knowing the type helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.

Seminoma and non seminoma

There are 2 main types of testicular cancer:

  • seminoma
  • non seminoma (some doctors may call these teratomas)

Both types develop from germ cells in the testicles. This is why testicular cancers are also called germ cell tumours. Germ cells in men produce sperm.

Seminoma

Between 40 and 45 out of every 100 testicular cancers (40 to 45%) are pure seminomas. 

Non seminoma

Most other testicular cancers are mixtures of these types of non seminoma:

  • teratoma
  • embryonal carcinoma
  • choriocarcinoma
  • yolk sac tumours

So you might have a mix of some teratoma cells and some embryonal carcinoma cells for example. It's also possible to have pure teratomas. These types are all treated in the same way.

Combined tumours

Some testicular tumours have both seminoma cells and non seminoma cells. Doctors usually treat these in the same way as non seminomas.

Rare types of testicular cancer

These types of testicular cancer are extremely rare, with only a few men diagnosed in the UK each year.

Lymphoma

This mostly occurs in men over the age of 50. If you've been diagnosed with a lymphoma in the testicle, you can find out about treatment in our non-Hodgkin lymphoma section.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma starts in the cells that make up the covering layers of the body. It usually occurs in the chest or abdomen and very rarely starts in the testicle.

Last reviewed: 
22 Nov 2017
  • Cancer and its Management (7th edition)

    J Tobias and D Hochhauser

    Wiley Blackwell 2015

  • Testicular seminoma and non seminoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up
    J Oldenburg and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2013, 24 (supplement 6 ): vi125-vi132

  • EAU Guidelines on Testicular Cancer 

    P Albers and others

    European Association of Urology 2016

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