Male infertility can pose increased testicular cancer risk

March 4, 2009


Testicular germ cell cancer is the most common cancer among young men living in industrialized countries. The rate of increase has almost doubled from 1972-2002, and has been accompanied by a decline in semen quality and male fertility during the same period.

Many factors have been cited, including environmental pollutants, and this new research linking infertility and testicular cancer comes from a study of men who have come with their partners to get treatment for their infertility.

The study found that the men who had male factor infertility were nearly three times as likely to develop cancer as those free from the condition though the researchers are keen to stress that the absolute risk of developing testicular cancer remained low in this study and the link has yet to be confirmed but that compared with what would be expected among the general population, men with male factor infertility showed a trend toward an increased risk of testicular cancer.

If a man is undergoing fertility treatment this could be an early warning to watch for any physical signs of testicular cancer though it cannot be diagnosed on symptoms alone, so it is important to also see a doctor if you are concerned.

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump on a testicle. In some cases the lump is uncomfortable, but severe pain is rare. Sometimes the testicle may be enlarged or swollen without a lump. Men with testicular cancer may also have a heavy or aching feeling in the lower belly or scrotum. Each normal testicle has an epididymis, which feels like a small bump on the upper or middle outer side of the testis. Normal testicles also contain blood vessels, supporting tissues, and tubes that conduct sperm. These can feel bumpy and are sometimes confused with cancer if doing a simple self-examination.

If you have any doubts, ask your doctor.


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