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Morphological approach to tumours of the testis and paratestis
  1. Robert E Emerson,
  2. Thomas M Ulbright
  1. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Thomas M Ulbright
 Department of Pathology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Clarian Pathology Laboratory, Room 4014, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA;tulbrigh{at}


Most neoplastic scrotal masses ultimately prove to be germ cell tumours and are recognisable with routine haematoxylin and eosin-stained sections. The differential diagnosis may be focused, even before reviewing histological sections, by knowledge of patient age, medical history, tumour site (testicular vs paratesticular) and gross findings. Some cases may prove to be diagnostically challenging, including rare tumours, a common tumour with an unusual pattern, a metastatic tumour, or a neoplasm with features that mimic another tumour. Several morphological patterns are seen with some frequency and these generate recurring sets of differential diagnostic considerations. These common patterns include testicular tumours with a predominant diffuse arrangement of cells with pale to clear cytoplasm, tumours with a glandular/tubular pattern, tumours with a microcystic pattern and tumours composed of oxyphilic cells. Intratubular proliferations of atypical cells, paratesticular glandular and/or papillary tumours, or tumours with spindle cell morphology can also be challenging to diagnose correctly. In some problematic cases, immunohistochemical staining may be useful to resolve these differential diagnoses.

  • AFP, α-fetoprotein
  • EMA, epithelial membrane antigen
  • hCG, human chorionic gonadotropin
  • IGCNU, intratubular germ cell neoplasia, unclassified type
  • LDH, lactate dehydrogenase
  • PAP, prostatic acid phosphatase
  • PLAP, placental alkaline phosphatase
  • PSA, prostate specific antigen
  • RCC, renal cell carcinoma associated antigen

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  • Published Online First 16 February 2007

  • Competing interests: None declared.