Hereditary Testicular Cancer

Hereditary Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer affects around 1000 men each year in Australia and around 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).

Is Testicular Cancer hereditary?

One to 3% of men with testicular cancer have an affected relative. 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.

As a result, the risk to an unaffected brother is greater (increased 8 to 10 fold increase) compared to a son or a father (4 to 6 fold).

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).

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.

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? Has a sex-cord tumour been detected in a blood relative? 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