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What are the types of testicular tumor?

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The term “germ cell” is applied to cells that are capable of developing into sperm (in the male) or eggs (in the female). Thus the general term “germ cell tumors” basically means tumors of either the testicle or the ovary.

There are two main types of testicular tumor – seminomas and non-seminomatous germ cell tumors (NSGCT, often also called “teratomas”). The two types are about equally common. Seminomas are fairly smooth tumors but teratomas are more complex and may contain different types of tissue.

Both types of tumors are capable of producing hormones (or proteins) which are detectable in the blood. Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) is produced by both teratomas and seminomas. (hCG is the hormone produced by a woman during pregnancy, and is what is detected in a pregnancy test). Teratomas can produce alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). Often the level of these proteins in the blood is useful in the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of men who have had testicular cancer.

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