• National Cancer Institute
  • National Human Genome Research Institute

Testicular Germ Cell CancerRSS

Last Updated: November 18, 2013

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What is testicular germ cell cancer?

More than 90 percent of testicular cancer start in the germ cells, which are cells in the testicles and develop into sperm. This type of cancer is known as testicular germ cell cancer. Testicular germ cell cancer can be classified as either seminomas or nonseminomas, whose cells have different appearances under a microscope.1 Another difference is that nonseminomas typically grow and spread more quickly than seminomas. A testicular germ cell tumor that contains a mix of both these subtypes is classified as a nonseminoma. The Cancer Genome Atlas is studying both seminomas and nonseminomas.

Testicular germ cell cancer is rare, comprising one to two percent of all tumors in males.2 However, it is the most common cancer in men ages 15 to 35.2 The incidence of testicular germ cell cancer has been continuously rising in many countries, including Europe and the U.S.3 In 2013, about 8,000 American men are estimated to be diagnosed with this cancer.1 Of those, 370 are predicted to die of this disease.1 Men who are Caucasian, have an undescended testicle, abnormally developed testicles, or a family history of testicular cancer have a greater risk of developing testicular cancer. Fortunately, testicular germ cell cancer is highly treatable.

View additional information on testicular germ cell cancer.

Testicular germ cell cancer is part of an effort to characterize rare tumor types. Read more about the Rare Tumor Projects.

What types of discoveries about testicular germ cell cancer do The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) researchers hope to make?

  • Map the mutations and pathways that drive testicular germ cell cancer
  • Delineate similarities and differences in genomic patterns between seminomas and nonseminomas
  • Investigate why patients with testicular germ cell tumors tend to respond well to therapy, compared to those with other solid tumors
  • Determine if genetic changes can predict patient response to therapy and long-term outcome

Where can I find more information about the TCGA Research Network's studies, or studies using TCGA data?

View a list of TCGA scientific publications.

Where can I find clinical trials to treat testicular germ cell cancer that are supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)?


View a list of NCI-supported testicular germ cell cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients.


Selected References

1 American Cancer Society. (2012) Testicular cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003142-pdf.pdf.

2 Segal R. (2006) Surveillance programs for stage I nonseminomatous germ cell tumors of the testis. Urol Oncol. 24(1):68-74.

3 Vasdev N, Moon A, Thorpe AC. (2013) Classification, epidemiology and therapies for testicular germ cell tumours. Int J Dev Biol. 57(2-4):133-139.