National Cancer Institute


The main treatment for testicular cancer in children is surgery. Learn more about the signs and symptoms, tests to diagnose, and treatment of childhood testicular cancer in this expert-reviewed summary.

This PDQ cancer information summary has current information about the treatment of childhood testicular cancer. It is meant to inform and help patients, families, and caregivers. It does not give formal guidelines or recommendations for making decisions about health care.

Editorial Boards write the PDQ cancer information summaries and keep them up to date. These Boards are made up of experts in cancer treatment and other specialties related to cancer. The summaries are reviewed regularly and changes are made when there is new information. The date on each summary ("Date Last Modified") is the date of the most recent change. The information in this patient summary was taken from the health professional version, which is reviewed regularly and updated as needed, by the PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board.

Childhood Testicular Cancer Treatment

General Information about Childhood Testicular Cancer

Key Points for this Section

  • Testicular cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles.
  • There are two types of testicular tumors.
  • Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include a painless lump in the testicles or early puberty.
  • Tests that examine the testicles are used to help diagnose non-germ cell testicular cancer.
  • Whether the cancer can be removed by surgery affects the prognosis (chance of recovery).

Testicular cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of one or both testicles.

The testicles are two 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.

Anatomy of the male reproductive and urinary systems; drawing shows front and side views of ureters, lymph nodes, rectum, bladder, prostate gland, vas deferens, penis, testicles, urethra, seminal vesicle, and ejaculatory duct.Anatomy of the male reproductive and urinary systems, showing the prostate, testicles, bladder, and other organs.

There are two types of testicular tumors.

Germ cell tumors:Tumors that start in spermcells 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. See the PDQ summary on Childhood Extracranial Germ Cell Tumors Treatment for more information on testicular germ cell tumors.

Non-germ cell tumors: Tumors that begin in the tissues that surround and support the testicles. These tumors may be benign or malignant. Juvenile granulosa cell tumors and Sertoli-Leydig cell tumors are two types of non-germ cell tumors.

This summary is about the treatment of testicular non-germ cell tumors.

Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include a painless lump in the testicles or early puberty.

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by testicular cancer or by other conditions.

Check with your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • Painless lump in the testicles.
  • Early signs of puberty.
  • Enlarged breasts.

Tests that examine the testicles are used to help diagnose non-germ cell testicular cancer.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

  • Physical exam and health history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
  • CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the chest, abdomen, or pelvis, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.

    Computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen; drawing shows a child lying on a table that slides through the CT scanner, which takes x-ray pictures of the inside of the abdomen.Computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen. The child lies on a table that slides through the CT scanner, which takes x-ray pictures of the inside of the abdomen.

  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet and radio waves to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the chest, abdomen, or pelvis. The pictures are made by a computer. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).

    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen; drawing shows a child lying on a table that slides into the MRI scanner, which takes pictures of the inside of the body. The pad on the child’s abdomen helps make the pictures clearer.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen. The child lies on a table that slides into the MRI scanner, which takes pictures of the inside of the body. The pad on the child’s abdomen helps make the pictures clearer.

  • Ultrasound exam: A procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. The picture can be printed to be looked at later.
  • Biopsy: The tissue removed during surgery is viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer.
  • 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. If an increased level of the tumor marker alpha-fetoprotein is found in the blood, it means the patient has a testicular germ cell tumor, not a testicular non-germ cell tumor.

Whether the cancer can be removed by surgery affects the prognosis (chance of recovery).

In children, the prognosis for testicular cancer is usually excellent after surgery to remove the tumor.

Stages of Childhood Testicular Cancer

The process used to find out if cancer has spread from the testicle to nearby areas or to other parts of the body is called staging. There is no standard system for staging childhood testicular cancer. The results of tests and procedures done to diagnose testicular cancer are used to help make decisions about treatment.

Sometimes childhood testicular cancer recurs (comes back) after treatment.

Treatment Option Overview

Key Points for this Section

  • There are different types of treatment for children and adolescents with testicular cancer.
  • Children and adolescents with testicular cancer should have their treatment planned by a team of doctors who are experts in treating childhood cancer.
  • One type of standard treatment is used for testicular cancer.
  • Surgery
  • New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.
  • Targeted therapy
  • Treatment for childhood testicular cancer may cause side effects.
  • Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
  • Patients can enter clinical trials before, during, or after starting their cancer treatment.
  • Follow-up tests may be needed.

There are different types of treatment for children and adolescents with testicular cancer.

Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.

Because cancer in children is rare, taking part in a clinical trial should be considered. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.

Children and adolescents with testicular cancer should have their treatment planned by a team of doctors who are experts in treating childhood cancer.

Treatment will be overseen by a pediatric oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating children with cancer. The pediatric oncologist works with other pediatric health professionals who are experts in treating children with cancer and who specialize in certain areas of medicine. This may include the following specialists and others:

One type of standard treatment is used for testicular cancer.

Surgery

Surgery is used to remove the cancer from the testicle or to remove one or both testicles.

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

This summary section describes treatments that are being studied in clinical trials. It may not mention every new treatment being studied. Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI website.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells. Targeted therapies usually cause less harm to normal cells than chemotherapy or radiation therapy do.

Targeted therapy is being studied for the treatment of childhood testicular cancer that has recurred (come back).

Treatment for childhood testicular cancer may cause side effects.

For information about side effects that begin during treatment for cancer, see our Side Effects page.

Side effects from cancer treatment that begin after treatment and continue for months or years are called late effects. Physical problems, such as problems with fertility, are a late effect of treatment.

Some late effects may be treated or controlled. It is important to talk with your child's doctors about the possible late effects caused by some treatments. See the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for more information.

Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.

Many of today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.

Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move research forward.

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during, or after starting their cancer treatment.

Some clinical trials only include patients who have not yet received treatment. Other trials test treatments for patients whose cancer has not gotten better. There are also clinical trials that test new ways to stop cancer from recurring (coming back) or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.

Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about clinical trials supported by NCI can be found on NCI’s clinical trials search webpage. Clinical trials supported by other organizations can be found on the ClinicalTrials.gov website.

Follow-up tests may be needed.

Some of the tests that were done to diagnose the cancer or to find out the stage of the cancer may be repeated. Some tests will be repeated in order to see how well the treatment is working. Decisions about whether to continue, change, or stop treatment may be based on the results of these tests.

Some of the tests will continue to be done from time to time after treatment has ended. The results of these tests can show if your child's condition has changed or if the cancer has recurred (come back). These tests are sometimes called follow-up tests or check-ups.

testicular cancer

Treatment of Childhood Testicular Cancer

For more information about the treatments listed below, see the Treatment Option Overview section.

Treatment of newly diagnosed non-germ celltesticular cancer in children is usually the following:

See the PDQ summary on Childhood Extracranial Germ Cell Tumors Treatment for more information on testicular germ cell tumors.

Use our clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials that are accepting patients. You can search for trials based on the type of cancer, the age of the patient, and where the trials are being done. General information about clinical trials is also available.

recurrent testicular cancer

Treatment of Recurrent Childhood Testicular Cancer

For more information about the treatment listed below, see the Treatment Option Overview section.

Treatment of recurrenttesticular cancer in children may include the following:

Use our clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials that are accepting patients. You can search for trials based on the type of cancer, the age of the patient, and where the trials are being done. General information about clinical trials is also available.

To Learn More About Childhood Testicular Cancer

For more information from the National Cancer Institute about testicular cancer, see the following:

For more childhood cancer information and other general cancer resources, see the following:

About This PDQ Summary

About PDQ

Physician Data Query (PDQ) is the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) comprehensive cancer information database. The PDQ database contains summaries of the latest published information on cancer prevention, detection, genetics, treatment, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine. Most summaries come in two versions. The health professional versions have detailed information written in technical language. The patient versions are written in easy-to-understand, nontechnical language. Both versions have cancer information that is accurate and up to date and most versions are also available in Spanish.

PDQ is a service of the NCI. The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH is the federal government’s center of biomedical research. The PDQ summaries are based on an independent review of the medical literature. They are not policy statements of the NCI or the NIH.

Purpose of This Summary

This PDQ cancer information summary has current information about the treatment of childhood testicular cancer. It is meant to inform and help patients, families, and caregivers. It does not give formal guidelines or recommendations for making decisions about health care.

Reviewers and Updates

Editorial Boards write the PDQ cancer information summaries and keep them up to date. These Boards are made up of experts in cancer treatment and other specialties related to cancer. The summaries are reviewed regularly and changes are made when there is new information. The date on each summary ("Updated") is the date of the most recent change.

The information in this patient summary was taken from the health professional version, which is reviewed regularly and updated as needed, by the PDQ Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board.

Clinical Trial Information

A clinical trial is a study to answer a scientific question, such as whether one treatment is better than another. Trials are based on past studies and what has been learned in the laboratory. Each trial answers certain scientific questions in order to find new and better ways to help cancer patients. During treatment clinical trials, information is collected about the effects of a new treatment and how well it works. If a clinical trial shows that a new treatment is better than one currently being used, the new treatment may become "standard." Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.

Clinical trials can be found online at NCI's website. For more information, call the Cancer Information Service (CIS), NCI's contact center, at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

Permission to Use This Summary

PDQ is a registered trademark. The content of PDQ documents can be used freely as text. It cannot be identified as an NCI PDQ cancer information summary unless the whole summary is shown and it is updated regularly. However, a user would be allowed to write a sentence such as “NCI’s PDQ cancer information summary about breast cancer prevention states the risks in the following way: [include excerpt from the summary].”

The best way to cite this PDQ summary is:

PDQ® Pediatric Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Childhood Testicular Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated . Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/testicular/patient/child-testicular-treatment-pdq. Accessed .

Images in this summary are used with permission of the author(s), artist, and/or publisher for use in the PDQ summaries only. If you want to use an image from a PDQ summary and you are not using the whole summary, you must get permission from the owner. It cannot be given by the National Cancer Institute. Information about using the images in this summary, along with many other images related to cancer can be found in Visuals Online. Visuals Online is a collection of more than 3,000 scientific images.

Disclaimer

The information in these summaries should not be used to make decisions about insurance reimbursement. More information on insurance coverage is available on Cancer.gov on the Managing Cancer Care page.

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More information about contacting us or receiving help with the Cancer.gov website can be found on our Contact Us for Help page. Questions can also be submitted to Cancer.gov through the website’s E-mail Us.

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