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Research & Breakthroughs

Could You be at Risk for Testicular Cancer?


Some men may be at a 10 times higher risk of cancer, and researchers are determined to find out why. 

According to a 2015 study by the Institute of Cancer Research in London, researchers discovered four new genetic variants associated with an increase in testicular cancer. 

The study of 25,000 men was the largest conducted on the genetics of germ cell tumors, the most common type of cancer in young men. Researchers found that testing for these four new variants, combined with 21 previously known variants, identified men who were at a tenfold greater risk of developing testicular cancer. 

Data found four new variants by studying the DNA of over 6,000 patients with the cancer compared to over 19,000 who did not. 

Of course, genetics can have a large effect on testicular cancer, especially when compared to breast or prostate cancers. And a man in the top 1 percent at genetic risk for testicular cancer has a 5 percent chance of developing that cancer over a lifetime — a 10 times higher risk than the average man. 

"In the future," said senior researcher at the ICR, Dr. Clare Turnbull, "if we can identify more of the genetic variation underlying testicular cancer, this sort of testing might be used clinically to help identify those at most risk of testicular cancer before they develop the diesase, such that we can offer measures to help them from developing testicular cancer."

Turnbull said that this study provided some evidence for genetic screening of men at high risk of testicular cancer, particularly among first-degree relatives of patients. 

Paul Villanti, executive director at the Movember Foundation, stated his organization's support for the ICR and their research, and that the foundation, which encourages men to grow out their facial hair to raise awareness about men's health, would continue to support their research. 

"Although relatively rare, testicular cancer is still the leading cancer diagnosis in young men," Villanti said. "and while the treatments are considered highly effective, the fat remains that up to five percent of men who are diagnosed with this disease will still die from it, and typically die much younger than they otherwise should."

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