Pathobiology of testicular germ cell tumors: views and news

Anal Quant Cytol Histol. 2002 Oct;24(5):263-79.


Human germ cell tumors (GCTs) are a heterogeneous group of neoplasms. They can occur in different anatomic locations, predominantly in the gonads (both ovary and testis) and in the midline of the body, including the retroperitoneal, mediastinal and hypothalamus/pineal gland regions. This distribution has been related to the migration routefollowed by primordial germ cells from the yolk sac to the genital ridge. The clinical behavior of these tumors depends on the sex of the patient, the age at clinical presentation and the histology of the tumor, Within the testis, three groups of GCTs can be distinguished; (I) yolk sac tumors and teratomas of neonates and infants; (II) seminomas and nonseminomas of adolescents and adults, the so-called testicular germ cell tumors; and (III) spermatocytic seminomas. This review discusses the histology, epidemiology and chromosomal constitution of GCT, in particular of the seminomas and nonseminomas of the adult testis, including their precursor, carcinoma in situ. In addition, the available data on the molecular basis of treatment sensitivity and resistance of GCT are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / pathology*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Testicular Neoplasms / genetics
  • Testicular Neoplasms / pathology*