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  • Embryonal Carcinoma

    Embryonal carcinoma is a rare form of ovarian and testicular cancer, responsible for only 3 percent of ovarian and 10 percent of testicular germ cell tumors.

    These masses develop primarily in adolescent girls around the age of 15 and males at approximately 30 years of age. Approximately 40 percent of testicular cancer has cells that are embryonic in origin.

    Signs & Symptoms

    In males, the most obvious symptom is a painful mass in the testes or an abnormal enlargement of one of the testicles. In females, a common symptom is abnormally heavy vaginal bleeding. As the tumormetastasizes, or spreads, the patient may experience other symptoms such as:

    • Pain in the lower back
    • Coughing
    • Haemoptysis (coughing up blood or blood-tinged mucus)
    • Haematemesis (vomiting blood)
    • Neurologic deficiencies
    • Diagnosis & Treatment

    Men may discover a lump or abnormality; if this is the case, seek medical treatment immediately. A doctor can make a definitive diagnosis through one of the following exams:

    • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves (echoes) to create pictures on a screen that can be printed and studied later. The ultrasound can detect an abnormality and the image will appear on the screen.
    • Blood test: Certain blood tests will indicate the amount of tumor markers–substances that are usually in the blood, but typically in higher amounts if cancer is present.
    • Surgery (radical inguinal orchiectomy): If the doctor suspects the lump on the testicles is cancerous, the mass will be removed and examined under a microscope to determine if it is actually cancerous and if so, what type of cancer is present.

    If cancer is definitely present, the doctor will likely order a computerized tomography (CT or CAT) scan or blood test to determine if the cancer has metastasized, or spread, to other areas of the body from the point of origin.

    Women may undergo any of these diagnostic tests:

    • Blood test
    • Ultrasound
    • CAT scan (mainly to determine if the cancer has spread)
    • Biopsy (a small portion of the tissue in the mass is removed and studied under a microscope)

    If caught early, these masses respond well to treatment; particularly chemotherapy and radiation.

    Prognosis

    Embryonal carcinoma is a rare, but highly treatable, form of cancer. Advances in treatment and medication in recent years have greatly improved patients’ recovery and survival odds.