What is Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis?
- Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis is a type of testicular cancer affecting the germ cells. Germ cells are precursors to sperm cells that will eventually transform into sperms
- Testicular cancer is cancer of the testicle, or testis. It is the most common form of cancer in young men aged 15-35 years. It is generally aggressive, but treatable when identified early
- More than 90% of testicular cancers arise from abnormalities in the germ cells. Germ cells are one of the two types of cells in the body. They form sex cells - the sperms and eggs, while the other type, somatic cells, forms everything else (all other body organs and parts)
- Normal germ cells arise from pluripotent stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells can differentiate into, or become, any cell in the body. Thus, pluripotent stem cells may become either germ cells or somatic cellsThe process of pluripotent stem cells becoming other cell types is mediated by chemical signalling. Chemicals that act as signals include growth factors, nutrients, and hormones
- Stem cells that do not respond to normal signals may grow uncontrollably and cause tumours. This tumour-causing potential makes them “neoplastic”. Neoplastic cells that grow aggressively and spread to other areas are cancerous
- The cause for Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis is unknown. It appears under the microscope as a tumour resembling early developing fertilized eggs or embryos, hence the term “embryonal”
- Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis is likely to spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body. It may cause internal bleeding (haemorrhaging) and cell death (necrosis) as it damages the surrounding tissues
What are the Risk Factors for Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis?
Following are factors that increase one’s susceptibility to Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis:
- Family history of testicular cancer
- Caucasian descent
- Age 25 to 35 years
- Undescended testes in youth
- Decreased immunity, especially due to HIV/AIDS
- Kidney transplant
- Presence of carcinoma in situ (CIS), or intra-tubular germ cell neoplasia
- Hypospadias (male birth defect affecting the urethra)
- Inguinal hernia
- Testicular atrophy
- Gonadal dysgenesis
- Exposure to radiation and industrial chemicals
- Viruses (in some rare cases)
It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.
What are the Causes of Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis?
The cause of Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis is unknown.
- It is believed that abnormal differentiation of germ cells gives rise to cancerous cells that lead to the formation of this condition
- However, how this occurs and the factors that cause it remain under investigation
- Descent of the testicles is a necessary factor for proper testicular development. It has been observed that undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) are associated with about 10% of all germ cell tumours such as Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis?
Symptoms of Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis include:
How Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis is diagnosed?
Following are techniques that aid in identifying Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis:
How Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis is treated?
Treatments for Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis may include the following procedures:
- Removal of the original tumour and the metastatic tumours
- Removal of the testis
- Debulking surgery to reduce tumour size, followed by chemotherapy
- Clotting the vessels in the tumour (embolization)
- Undertaking treatment of underlying conditions
How can Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis be prevented?
Embryonal Carcinoma of the Testis may be avoided through the following measures:
- Monthly testicular self-examination
- Genetic testing in individuals with a family history
- Limiting exposure to radiation and industrial chemicals
- Limiting chemotherapy
- Not smoking