Perspectives on testicular germ cell neoplasms

Hum Pathol. 2017 Jan:59:10-25. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2016.08.002. Epub 2016 Aug 26.


Our knowledge of testicular germ cell neoplasms has progressed in the last few decades due to the description of germ cell neoplasia in situ (GCNIS) and a variety of specific forms of intratubular germ cell neoplasia, the discovery of isochromosome 12p and its importance in the development of invasiveness in germ cell tumors (GCTs), the identification of specific transcription factors for GCTs, and the recognition that a teratomatous component in mixed GCT represents terminal differentiation. Isochromosome 12p and 12p overrepresentation, collectively referred to as 12p amplification, are fundamental abnormalities that account for many types of malignant GCTs of the testis. Embryonal carcinoma is common in the testis but rare in the ovary, whereas the converse is true for mature cystic teratoma. Spermatocytic tumor occurs only in the testis; it has not been described in the ovary or extragonadal sites. The origin of ovarian mature cystic teratoma is similar to that of prepubertal-type testicular teratoma and dermoid cyst at any age in that it arises from a nontransformed germ cell, whereas postpubertal-type testicular teratoma arises from a malignant germ cell, most commonly through the intermediary of GCNIS. Somatic neoplasms, often referred to as monodermal teratomas, arise not infrequently from mature cystic teratoma of the ovary, whereas such neoplasms are rare in testicular teratoma with the exception of carcinoid. Integration of classical morphologic observations and emerging novel molecular studies will result in better understanding of the pathogenesis of GCTs and will optimize patient therapy.

Keywords: Differential diagnosis; Germ cell tumors; Histogenesis; Teratoma; Testis; Tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biopsy
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 12*
  • Gene Amplification
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Isochromosomes*
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / classification
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / genetics*
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / therapy
  • Phenotype
  • Prognosis
  • Testicular Neoplasms / classification
  • Testicular Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / pathology
  • Testicular Neoplasms / therapy


  • Biomarkers, Tumor

Supplementary concepts

  • Testicular Germ Cell Tumor