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There are two main types of testicular cancer – seminomas and nonseminomas. Seminomas typically grow more slowly than nonseminomas and account for approximately 40 percent of all testicular cancer diagnoses. The remaining cases can be classified as one of the following types of nonseminoma cancer:

  • Teratomas

  • Embryonal carcinomas

  • Choriocarcinomas

  • Yolk sac tumors

To determine which type of testicular cancer a patient has, a physician will typically look at a sample of cells beneath a microscope. The histological characteristics of the cells will help determine what type of cancer has developed. Often, a tumor will be made up of more than one type of cell. Tumor markers can also be used to distinguish between the various types of testicular tumors. Nonseminomas can produce a specific substance known as alpha-fetoprotein (APF), a substance that is not produced by seminomas. APF levels can be measured from a simple blood sample. Distinguishing between the various classifications is important because each type of testicular tumor responds differently to treatment. For instance, seminomas are highly responsive to radiation therapy and most can be effectively destroyed by the chemotherapy drug carboplatin.

Nonseminomas, on the other hand, do not respond as favorably to radiation therapy and are less frequently treated with chemotherapy.  As part of our commitment to individualized treatment, the testicular cancer team at Moffitt Cancer Center will take into consideration the type and stage of each patient’s tumor before developing a treatment plan. This allows us to recommend the options that have the most potential to be effective, while minimizing the severity of the side effects a patient may face during treatment. This approach helps Moffitt obtain favorable patient outcomes, while helping each patient maintain a high quality of life. Our oncologists can help you better understand the various types of testicular cancer and how they respond to treatment. No referral is required; call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a patient registration form to schedule a visit.