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Sertoli-Cell Tumors

General Information

Sertoli-cell tumors generally occur in male dogs over 5 years of age, but occasionally are found in younger dogs. Usually the tumor develops in a testicle that is not descended into the scrotum. However, a testicle within the scrotum may be involved also. These tumors generally do not spread to other areas of the body.

Female hormones (estrogens) are produced by about 15% of the tumors in normal testicles, 50% of the tumors in testicles located in the groin, and 70% of the tumors in testicles located in the abdomen. Female hormones cause the development of female characteristics, such as enlarged mammary glands, swollen skin enclosing the penis, localized hair thinning, and reduced penis size. Dogs with Sertoli-cell tumors may also be sexually attractive to other male dogs.

Important Points in Treatment

1. The only effective treatment is surgical removal of the testicles (castration). Signs disappear within 1-3 months.

2. The following pertains to dogs whose surgery has been completed and are being released to go home:

Diet: Ordinarily no special diet is required.

Activity: Only moderate on-leash exercise is allowed until the sutures (stitches) are removed. Then normal activity may be resumed.

Environment: Keep your dog in the house and frequently change the bedding until the stitches are removed.

Your dog will be evaluated for suture removal in ____ days.


Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:

* Your dog chews out the stitches or opens the incision.

* The incision becomes red, hot or swollen, or oozes fluid or pus.

* Your dog experiences painful urination, or there is blood in the urine.

* Your dog's general health changes.

Question and AnsWhat is a Sertoli cell tumor?

A Sertoli cell tumor is a common testicular tumor. It generally is slow growing and does not extend into surrounding tissues (that is, it is noninvasive). Occasionally Sertoli cell tumors will be cancerous (malignant), spreading to lymph nodes and abdominal organs (metastasis). Sertoli cell tumors are seen in senior male dogs.

What causes Sertoli cell tumor?

The cause of Sertoli cell tumor is unknown. Cryptorchidism (failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum) increases the risk of a dog developing this tumor.

What are the signs of Sertoli cell tumor?

The signs of Sertoli cell tumor include the presence of one large testicle with the other testicle being smaller than normal (atrophied). Some dogs will develop feminine characteristics (that is, have feminization syndrome). Feminine changes may include breast development, milk production and secretion from the breast, attraction to other male dogs, and standing in the female position to urinate. The size of the penis may decrease. The feminine characteristics are caused by high concentrations of the hormone, estradiol. Estradiol is a potent estrogen (female hormone). Dogs with Sertoli cell tumors frequently have changes in their skin and hair coat, such as hair loss, thinning of the haircoat, or excessive coloring (hyperpigmentation) of the skin. If the dog is a cryptorchid (failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum), the tumor may develop in the cryptorchid testicle leading to the presence of a mass in the abdomen or the inguinal area.

How is Sertoli cell tumor diagnosed?

Sertoli cell tumor is diagnosed by good medical history and physical examination. Ultrasound (visualization of deep body tissues by recording ultrasonic waves) may be useful in identifying this tumor, especially if the affected testicle is in the abdomen or inguinal area. High concentrations of the hormones, estradiol and progesterone, may be seen in blood tests of most affected dogs. Complete blood counts (CBCs) may be abnormal. The bone marrow may be affected by the high concentration of estradiol, leading to decreased red blood cells (anemia). Definitive diagnosis is made by removing the testicles (castration) and examining specimens of the tumor and atrophied testicle with a microscope.

How is Sertoli cell tumor treated?

Dogs with Sertoli cell tumors are castrated. Specimens of the tumor are submitted to a laboratory for microscopic examination and a final diagnosis.

What is the prognosis for dogs with Sertoli cell tumor?

The prognosis (outcome) for dogs with Sertoli cell tumor generally is good. However, the prognosis can be guarded if severe bone-marrow suppression and blood cell abnormalities develop due to high blood concentrations of estradiol.



The information on this page was obtained from the site www.vetmedcenter.com