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:
- 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.
Between 40 and 50 out of every 100 testicular cancers (40 to 50%) are pure seminomas.
Most other testicular cancers are mixtures of these types of non seminoma:
- embryonal carcinoma
- 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.
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.
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 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.