Malignant mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis testis: diagnostic studies and differential diagnosis

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2012 Jan;136(1):113-7. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2010-0550-RS.


Malignant mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis testis is an extremely rare tumor representing 0.3% to 5% of all malignant mesotheliomas. Gross examination of testicular mesotheliomas typically reveals tumor nodules studding the thickened tunica vaginalis and, in some cases, infiltrating the testicular parenchyma, leading to diagnostic challenges. Microscopically, the tumor is characterized by epithelioid cells arising from the tunica vaginalis with papillary, tubulopapillary, or solid architectural patterns. The papillae are usually lined by a single layer of cells with relatively bland cytologic features. An epithelial cell phenotype admixed with a sarcomatoid pattern has also been described in a few cases. Immunohistochemically, the tumor is usually positive for calretinin, Wilms tumor-1, epithelial membrane antigen, D2-40, thrombomodulin, cytokeratin 7, and cytokeratin 5/6. Electron microscopic studies reveal epithelial cells joined by tight junctions, forming lumina, and displaying long microvilli with length to width ratios often greater than 10. The most important differential diagnostic considerations include florid mesothelial hyperplasia, adenomatoid tumor, carcinoma of the rete testis, and serous papillary tumors. In addition, the various types of testicular germ cell tumors should be considered, including seminomas, embryonal carcinomas, and intratubular germ cell tumors, particularly in tumors with testicular parenchymal involvement. Pleomorphic sarcomas should also be considered, particularly when dealing with the biphasic variant. The prognosis for this entity is grave, with a median survival of 23 months. Aggressive therapy with radical orchiectomy remains the mainstay of treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Calbindin 2
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / diagnosis*
  • Mesothelioma / metabolism
  • Mesothelioma / pathology*
  • Orchiectomy
  • Prognosis
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G / metabolism
  • Testicular Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Testicular Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Testis / pathology
  • Testis / surgery


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CALB2 protein, human
  • Calbindin 2
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein G