Carcinoma-in-situ of the testis: possible origin from gonocytes and precursor of all types of germ cell tumours except spermatocytoma



Based on evidence from morphological and histochemical studies and from clinical experience, the following hypotheses are proposed: (1) carcinoma-in-situ (CIS) germ cells are malignant gonocytes; (2) these CIS gonocytes have some capacity to regress into more primitive, totipotent embryonic cells which can give rise to all types of nonseminomatous germ cell tumours; (3) the tumour germ cells of classical seminomas are malignant gonocytes derived from CIS gonocytes which have lost their ability to regress into totipotent embryonic cells; (4) the ability of CIS gonocytes to regress into totipotent embryonic cells decreases with age, whereas the capacity to form classical seminoma cells is preserved; (5) the transformation of CIS gonocytes into invasive tumours is dependent on factors such as gonadotrophins and/or testicular steroids; (6) the pathogenesis of classical and spermatocytic seminoma are unrelated.

As a consequence of these hypotheses an alternative nomenclature for carcinoma-in-situ, seminoma and dysgerminoma is suggested.