Embryonal Carcinoma

What is Embryonal Carcinoma?

Embryonal carcinoma is a common kind of cancerous tumor found in ovaries or testicles. It is far more common in men than women. People under 30 get it most often. Most patients develop embryonal carcinoma while they are still in their teens.

Embryonal carcinoma gets its name because the cells appear somewhat like human embryos. This is a bad type of cancer to get because it spreads rapidly to other parts of the body. Patients often have other kinds of germ cell (ovaries or testes) tumors such as mature teratoma along with embryonal carcinoma. It usually first appears in just one ovary or testicle before it spreads. It is unknown what causes embryonal carcinoma.

What are the Symptoms of Embryonal Carcinoma?

The usual symptom of embryonal carcinoma is a painful lump. This is easier to find in men than in women. Other symptoms include pain in the lower back, a constant cough, shortness of breath, coughing up blood or mucus and blood together and vomiting blood or what appears to be coffee grounds but which is dried blood.

Uncommon symptoms include incontinence, constipation or problems coordinating part or all of their bodies.

Embryonal Carcinoma Causes

The prevailing cause of embryonal carcinoma is cell transformations in the reproductive cells. It takes place when the embryonal carcinoma cancer cells mix with other germ cells in the testicles. As the healthy cells divide into mutations, they accumulate, creating a mass in the testicle. It’s not clear what causes healthy cells to mutate.

There are two types of testicular cancer; seminomas and nonseminomas. Nonseminomas tumors are the most common type of embryonal carcinoma and the cancers start in the germ cells that produce sperm.

Family histories raise the risk of developing this disorder. Being an identical twin and genetics can trigger a defect in a male sex chromosome causing the condition. Testicles failing to drop into the scrotum before birth increase the risks of embryonal carcinoma.

Exposures to chemical toxins can cause this cancer, along with earlier treatments for this condition, followed by viral infections like mumps and immunodeficiency viruses such as HIV or AIDS. An injury to the scrotum or activities that apply extreme and constant pressure can irritate the scrotum, leading to the disease.

How is Embryonal Carcinoma Treated?

There is no cure for embryonal carcinoma, but it can go into remission when treatment starts early enough. A patient may need many doctors to help coordinate a multi-faceted attack against the cancer. Each treatment plan will differ for each patient depending on his or her health history, if the cancer has spread and where the cancer currently is.

Treatment includes

Treatment plans include surgery to remove embryonal carcinoma tumors. This may include removing the affected ovary or testicle. Surgery is often combined with radiation treatments to help shrink the tumors or stop the cancer from spreading. Chemotherapy drugs are used with or without radiation.

It is possible for the cancer to return even if it goes into remission, so regular check-ups after remission are essential for a patient that had embryonal carcinoma.

Embryonal Carcinoma Prevention

It is curable with treatments when diagnosed early. Avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals is the best prevention. Lifestyle prevention includes monitoring your sexual partners for transmittable diseases and staying current with your vaccinations of particular illnesses.

If you have a family history, talk with your doctor to observe your health and any changes that may be precursors of the disorder. If you’re an identical twin, you need to understand as much as you can about this condition. Your doctor can help with a dietary routine to strengthen your immune system as a preventive measure against illnesses.

Be aware of your physical activities and any pressure applied to your body. Always wear the protective gear to guard against injuries.

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Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
December 19, 2017