top of page

Testicular Cancer Awareness Month: Insight Into it's Rare Forms

Updated: Apr 1

✍🏻 Kate Johnson | PhD in Analytical Chemistry


What is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month? 📅

April is testicular cancer awareness month. 2,300 people are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year. It is important to self-check for symptoms to help diagnose early.

For more information on how to check for testicular cancer, talk to your GP. Alternatively, there are many guides such as on the Macmillan website or the Oddballs Foundation website.


What is testicular cancer? ♋︎

Testicular cancer is cancer of the testicles, and is usually a painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles, or a change in shape or texture.

The most common type of testicular cancer is germ cell testicular cancer, accounting for 95% of cases. There are two mains subtypes; seminomas and non-seminomas.

Seminoma tumours only contain seminoma cells and are the most common, whereas non-seminoma tumours develop from different cells and are usually more aggressive. Types of non-seminoma tumours include:

  • teratoma (post pubertal type)

  • embryonal carcinoma

  • choriocarcinoma

  • yolk sac tumours (post pubertal type)


How is testicular cancer diagnosed? 🔬

The earlier testicular cancer is diagnosed, the better the prognosis.

The first step is usually seeing a GP who will give a physical exam and order some blood tests. More specialised tests may then be carried out, including ultrasound scans, CT scans and MRI scans.

Ultrasound scan

This test uses sound waves to create an internal image of the body. It is non-invasive, and can help determine if the suspected tumour is filled with liquid, and therefore a benign cyst, or if it is solid and potentially cancerous.

CT scan

MRI scan

Blood tests


How do we treat testicular cancer? 🩺

The first treatment for testicular cancer is usually the removal of the affected testicle.

Additional treatment may be required after this, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is a common treatment involving the use of anti-cancer drugs, and is effective if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Radiotherapy may be required if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes at the back of the abdomen.


What is Choriocarcinoma? 🔍

Choriocarcinoma is a non-seminoma tumour, and is one of the least common and most aggressive forms of these types of tumours.

This type of tumour usually develops from cells that were left behind from a pregnancy, and is referred to as gestational choriocarcinoma. However, in this very rare form testicular cancer, it is known as non-gestational choriocarcinoma as it does not originate from a pregnancy event. It accounts for only 1% of all germ cell testicular cancers, and usually affects men aged 20-30. A characteristic symptom of choriocarcinoma testicular cancer is high levels of beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-HCG).

Choriocarcinomas are easily spread via the blood stream, and the tumours that start growing in other areas of the body (metastases) are prone to bleeding. The first symptoms of this type of testicular cancer are usually complications from the metastases; for example, bleeding in the brain or difficulty breathing. The original tumour in the testes may be small and not cause any symptoms.

This rare form of testicular cancer is very difficult to diagnose due to symptoms in other areas of the body caused by the cancer spreading obscuring the main cause. This usually results in a late diagnosis, and so treatment is ineffective and the prognosis is poor.

More awareness is required for this rare kind of testicular cancer in order to diagnose earlier and intervene with treatment before this aggressive cancer has time to spread.

Editor in front of lilac background

Edited by: Olivia Laughton | Content Editor | BSc Microbiology, University of Leeds



1 Comment

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Apr 02
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Very informative!

bottom of page