Testicular germ cell tumors: pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2011 Jan;7(1):43-53. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2010.196. Epub 2010 Nov 30.


Testicular germ cell tumors represent the most common solid malignancy of young men aged 15-40 years. Histopathologically, testicular germ cell tumors are divided into two major groups: pure seminoma and nonseminoma. The pathogenesis of testicular germ cell tumors remains unknown; however, cryptorchidism is the main risk factor, and molecular studies have shown strong evidence of an association between genetic alterations and testicular germ cell tumors. In cases of suspicion for testicular germ cell tumor, a surgical exploration with orchiectomy is obligatory. After completion of diagnostic procedures, levels of serum tumor markers and the clinical stage based on the International Union Against Cancer tumor-node-metastasis classification should be defined. Patients with early-stage testicular germ cell tumors are treated by individualized risk stratification within a multidisciplinary approach. The individual management (surveillance, chemotherapy or radiotherapy) has to be balanced according to clinical features and the risk of short-term and long-term toxic effects. Treatment for metastatic tumors is based on risk stratification according to International Germ Cell Cancer Collaborative Group classification and is performed with cisplatin-based chemotherapy and residual tumor resection in cases of residual tumor lesion. High-dose chemotherapy represents a curative option for patients with second or subsequent relapses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / etiology
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / surgery
  • Testicular Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Testicular Neoplasms / etiology
  • Testicular Neoplasms / surgery