Children's Hospital Colorado

Testicular Masses and Tumors in Children

What are testicular tumors?

Testicular tumors are masses that grow in the testicle of boys and men. A pediatric testicular mass can be benign, meaning it will not spread to the rest of the body, or malignant, meaning it is cancerous and can spread.

Testicular cancer is a malignancy of the testicle. Most testicular cancers (between 90% and 95% of the time) are a specific type of cancer called a testicular germ cell tumor. These tumors begin in the germ cells, which are the cells that make sperm.

Can children and teenagers get testicular cancer?

Yes. Testicular cancer is the most common type of solid tumor in adolescent and adult men from 13 to 40 years old, but it can occur at any age from infancy through adulthood. Most testicular cancers are curable.

At Children's Hospital Colorado, our Urologic Tumor Program treats many types of testicular and para-testicular tumors, which originate outside the testicles, such as:

We commonly treat testicular tumors in boys and young men using surgery and chemotherapy, but we develop a unique and appropriate treatment plan for each patient and family.

What causes testicular tumors in children?

We don't yet understand what causes these tumors, but we know that certain factors can predispose boys and young men to testicular tumors, such as a prior undescended testicle or a family history of testicular tumors.

What are the signs and symptoms of testicular tumors in boys?

Testicular tumors typically present as a mass that either a patient or doctor recognizes. The tumor may or may not also cause pain or discomfort. A doctor should conduct an exam and potentially an ultrasound of the testicles and scrotum if an abnormality is present. If the doctor detects a mass or tumor, he or she will request evaluation by a urologist.

How are testicular tumors diagnosed?

At Children's Colorado, we diagnose most testicular tumors with ultrasound. Following diagnosis, we advise most patients to undergo surgical removal of the testicle, called an orchiectomy. This allows a pathologist to look at the tumor under the microscope to determine the type of tumor and help guide further treatment. We may also use radiologic imaging, such as X-rays and CT scans, as well as blood tests to evaluate the tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. These blood tests look for hormones in the blood caused by testicular tumors.

When your child needs evaluation for testicular tumors, we understand your desire for answers. We work with our laboratory and imaging teams to diagnose your child as quickly as possible and provide support services such as child life specialists to help you and your family through the process.

Testicular tumor treatment for kids

At Children's Colorado, we will coordinate with your family to determine the best treatment and observation options for your child. Treatment options for your son will depend on the type of tumor.

Benign (non-cancerous) testicular tumor treatment

If the tumor does not appear to have spread to other parts of the body, we will likely follow up frequently and explore other treatment options to ensure the tumor does not return. We will determine the correct treatment and observation options for the type of tumor in coordination with you and your family. Often these non-cancerous testicular tumors are removed through surgery. We will determine treatment based on whether the benign testicular mass causes pain or increases risk for infection or infertility.

Cancerous testicular tumor treatment

Testicular cancer is treatable and has a favorable outlook with most patients being cured. Being cured does require surgery to remove the testicular tumor. Children's Colorado has the most experience in the region managing testicular cancer, where it is a key component of our multidisciplinary Solid Tumor Program. However, this requires close follow-up with your child's urologist and possibly an oncologist. Care may also include further surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and routine imaging to see if the cancer has spread or returned.

If X-rays or CT scans show that the tumor has spread outside the testicle, we will likely recommend chemotherapy or surgery, and possibly both. These treatment decisions depend on many factors and will be a personal decision your family makes after discussing it with your child's care team.

Why choose Children's Colorado for your child's testicular tumor treatment?

We understand it can be stressful to learn that your child has a testicular tumor. Whether their testicular mass is determined to be benign or more serious, Children's Colorado has the expertise and experience to guide your child's care and achieve the best possible outcome. We care for infants, children and adolescents with all stages of disease.

Because treating testicular cancer in boys and young men is not always straightforward, we encourage families to seek advice and treatment options from experts in pediatric urology and oncology. At Children's Colorado, we are fortunate to have one of the few pediatric urologists who is also trained in urologic oncology.

In addition to the common methods for diagnosing and treating testicular tumors in children, our Program participates in research and clinical trials, giving your child access to the best treatments available.

To learn more, visit our Pediatric Oncology Program and our Urologic Tumor Program.

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