Canadian Cancer Society logo

Testicular cancer

You are here: 

Precancerous conditions of the testicle

Intratubular germ cell neoplasia, unclassified (IGCNU), is a precancerous condition that can develop in the testicle. It is also called carcinoma in situ or testicular intraepithelial neoplasia.

IGCNU is when germ cells in the seminiferous tubules change so they are no longer normal. The germ cells look like cancer cells, but they aren’t behaving like cancer cells yet. This means that they are not growing into the surrounding tissues, or they are non-invasive. But there is a higher chance that these changes will become testicular cancer.

IGCNU can develop into any type of germ cell tumour. About 50% of men with a germ cell tumour in one testicle will have IGCNU in the other testicle.

Risk factors

The following risk factors increase your chance of developing IGCNU:

  • personal history of testicular cancer
  • undescended testicle, or cryptorchidism
  • a birth defect where the genitals do not look normal (called ambiguous genitalia)
  • infertility

Symptoms

IGCNU usually doesn’t cause any symptoms because a lump does not form. It may cause fertility problems in some cases.

Diagnosis

IGCNU is usually found during an orchiectomy, which is surgery to remove one or both testicles because of testicular cancer. It can also be found when the doctor is looking for the cause of other problems.

IGCNU is diagnosed with a biopsy, which means removing tissue from the testicle so it can be examined under a microscope. A biopsy can be done as part of an orchiectomy. A biopsy may also be done to find the reason for other problems, such as infertility.

Treatments

Experts are trying to find the best ways to treat IGCNU. Currently, there are no standard treatments. Treatment is based on risk factors and each man’s needs and preferences.

Treatment options for IGCNU may include:

  • watchful waiting
  • orchiectomy
  • radiation therapy

Stories

Lusomé Founder and CEO Lara Smith Seeing my sister Erin – a young mother – struggle with the emotional blow and then the physical toll of cancer treatment made me want to do something to help women feel confident.

Read Lara's story

Celebrating cancer survivors at Relay For Life

Relay For Life illustration

For cancer survivors, the Canadian Cancer Society provides a unique opportunity to celebrate their courage in the fight against cancer. During hundreds of Relay For Life events across the country, thousands of survivors join together for the Survivors’ Victory Lap.

Learn more