Testicular Cancer in Children

What Is Testicular Cancer?

Testicular cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles. The testicles are 2 egg-shaped glands located inside the scrotum (a sac of loose skin that lies directly below the penis). The testicles are held within the scrotum by the spermatic cord, which also contains the vas deferens and vessels and nerves of the testicles. There are two types of testicular tumors:

  • Germ cell tumors: Tumors that start in sperm cells in males. Testicular germ cell tumors may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). The most common testicular germ cell tumors in young boys are benign teratomas and malignant nonseminomas. Seminomas usually occur in young men and are rare in boys.
  • Non-germ cell tumors: Tumors that begin in the tissues that surround and support the testicles. These tumors may be benign or malignant.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Testicular Cancer in Children?

Testicular cancer and its spread to other parts of the body may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • Painless lump in the testicles.
  • Pain in the abdomen or back.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Streaks of blood in sputum (mucus coughed up from the lungs).

A painless lump in the testicles may be a sign of a testicular tumor. Other conditions may also cause a lump in the testicles.

How Is Testicular Cancer in Children Diagnosed?

Tests to diagnose and stage non-germ cell testicular cancer may include the following:

Other tests used to diagnose testicular tumors include the following:

  • Serum tumor marker test: A procedure in which a sample of blood is examined to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs, tissues, or tumor cells in the body. Certain substances are linked to specific types of cancer when found in increased levels in the blood. These are called tumor markers. The tumor marker alpha-fetoprotein is used to diagnose germ cell tumors.

What Is the Treatment for Testicular Cancer in Children?

Treatment of non-germ cell testicular cancer in children may include the following:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor.

Treatment of recurrent non-germ cell testicular cancer in children may include the following:

  • A clinical trial that checks a sample of the patient's tumor for certain gene changes. The type of targeted therapy that will be given to the patient depends on the type of gene change.

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The website of the National Cancer Institute (https://www.cancer.gov)

Last updated Oct. 6, 2017