Hereditary Testicular Cancer
Testicular cancer affects around 1000 men each year in Australia.
2% of men diagnosed with testicular cancer develop a cancer in the other (contralateral) testis within 15 years of their first diagnosis.
Testicular cancer is more common in men who had an undescended testis (cryptorchidism) as a child.
95% of testicular cancers are germ cells tumours and are grouped into seminomas and non seminomas (including teratoma, choriocarcinoma, yolk sac tumour and embryonal carcinoma).
Is Testicular Cancer inherited?
In some cases testicular cancer is part of a hereditary cancer syndrome and is due to an inherited genetic mutation.
A rare kind of testicular cancer, called a sex cord-stromal tumour, may be hereditary and genetic testing should be considered. These tumours may be associated with Peutz Jeghers syndrome, a hereditary cancer syndrome caused by germline mutations in the STK11 gene.
Up to 3% of men with testicular cancer have a close relative who has also had testicular cancer. The inherited risk is believed to be due to several genes of modest or small effect rather than a mutation in one, high risk gene. It is not yet known what all these genes are but research is ongoing.
That is why brothers are at greater risk than sons. The risk for a brother may be increased to 5% lifetime risk compared to the average male risk of 0.5% while for a son the lifetime risk may be 2.5%.
Screening for Testicular cancer
Currently there are no specific Australian screening guidelines, unless Peutz Jeghers syndrome is diagnosed. Men should practice regular testicular examination and seek medical attention promptly, and with the family history in mind, if an abnormality is detected. This could include swelling or an unusual lump.
Does this sound like you or your family?
Have you been diagnosed with a sex-cord tumour or has more than one blood relative been diagnosed with testicular cancer? Make an appointment with Dr Hilda High at Sydney Cancer Genetics. It is a confidential opportunity to discuss your personal and family history of cancer and genetic testing can be organised, if needed. You'll find information on how to make an appointment here
These links may be useful
- The Cancer Genetics section of the Cancer Institute's eviQ website provides up-to-date Australian-based management guidelines