Testicular stromal tumors
What are testicular stromal tumors?
Testicles are the two oval-shaped organs that create sperm, and they’re contained in the scrotum behind the penis. A testicular stromal tumor grows within the tissues (stroma) that support and produce hormones in the testicles. Another, more common, type of tumor is testicular germ cell tumors, which start in the cells that make sperm.
Types of testicular tumors
Leydig cell tumors
These tumors start in the Leydig cells in the testicle, which normally make male sex hormones, such as testosterone. These tumors often make androgens, or male hormones, but sometimes they make estrogens, or female sex hormones.
Most Leydig cell tumors are benign (noncancerous), they rarely spread beyond the testicle, and they can often be cured with surgery.
Sertoli cell tumors
These tumors start in normal Sertoli cells, which support and nourish the sperm-making germ cells. Like the Leydig cell tumors, these tumors are usually benign.
What causes testicular stromal tumors?
Doctors haven’t found a clear cause for testicular stromal tumors, but some genetic factors increase your child’s risk for the condition. These include changes in the Y chromosome and genetic syndromes such as Peutz–Jeghers syndrome and Carney complex.
Testicular stromal tumors represent up to 20% of pediatric testicular tumors and less than 5% of adult testicular tumors.
What are the signs and symptoms of testicular stromal tumors?
The first sign of most testicular tumors is swelling or a lump developing on the testicle. However, testicular tumors are rare, and the lump is often related to a more common condition, such as:
- Hernia: An intestine bulging through the muscles in the abdomen
- Hydrocele: A swollen scrotum caused by a fluid-filled sac around a testicle
- Testicular torsion: Twisting in the cord that brings blood to the testes
- Epididymitis: Inflammation in the tube (epididymis) that stores and carries sperm
A testicular growth can be linked to many other conditions, so it’s important to speak with your child’s doctor right away.
What tests are used to diagnose testicular stromal tumors?
Your child’s doctor starts by reviewing their medical history. We typically request an ultrasound to see if the mass is a tumor or related to another condition. If the growth is a tumor, we conduct more tests to decide how to treat it.
How do we diagnose testicular stromal tumors?
Your child’s doctor may perform several tests before making a final diagnosis, including:
How are testicular stromal tumors treated?
We usually perform surgery to remove the tumor, a procedure called a partial orchiectomy or radical orchiectomy. The type of orchiectomy depends on the size of the tumor, whether it affects nearby tissue and whether it has spread outside the testicle.
If the tumor is contained in the testicle, surgery is usually straightforward. If it has spread to other parts of the body, your child may also need chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Learn more about these treatments at our Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Why choose us for treatment of testicular stromal tumors?
The Surgical Oncology Program at Children’s Colorado includes skilled surgeons and oncology experts. We treat testicular stromal tumors in boys, adolescents and young men, with experience in all stages and phases of care.
The Children’s Colorado team brings a high level of expertise to treat your child’s unique needs. Our program’s co-director, Nicholas Cost, MD, is among the few pediatric urologists in the U.S. with fellowship training in urologic oncology. Dr. Cost also serves on the Testicular Cancer Panel of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
We take a comprehensive approach to cancer treatment, working closely with specialists in urology and oncology. Our doctors are also active in clinical trials and research, always striving to innovate new, better ways to treat pediatric cancers.