If you've been near social media or on the Internet, you may be aware
of the buzz over posts claiming a teenage boy took a home pregnancy
test as a joke, received a positive result, and wound up being diagnosed
with testicular cancer.
CNN interviewed a girl who identified
herself as a friend of the 17-year-old, but was not able to
independently confirm the posts.
However, it's true home pregnancy
tests can detect some types of testicular cancer in men, experts say -
but the tests would not be useful as a screening tool.
to the American Cancer Society, pregnancy tests work by detecting a
hormone called Beta-HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). Beta-HCG is
produced by the cells of a woman's placenta during pregnancy, but is
also excreted by some tumors "including some, but not all, testicular
cancers," the cancer society says.
"At the time of diagnosis, only
a small minority of men with testicular cancer have HCG levels high
enough to be detected by a home urine pregnancy test," says Dr. Ted
Gansler, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, in
a statement. "More sensitive blood tests for HCG with a lower cutoff
level could detect a somewhat higher percentage, but several
non-cancerous conditions can cause false positive results.
evidence does not indicate that screening the general population of men
with a urine test for HCG (or with urine or blood tests for any other
tumor marker) can find testicular cancer early enough to reduce
testicular cancer death rates," Gansler says.
Gansler told CNN in
an e-mail that "much less often, some other cancers might cause a
positive pregnancy test." Medical journals have documented that both men
and women patients with pancreas, lung, stomach or other cancers may
have HCG levels high enough to cause a positive pregnancy test result,
A lump on the testicle is the first sign of cancer,
according to the cancer society, and men should see a doctor right away
if one is found.
But even regular self-exams aren't recommended by
the ACS because they have not been studied enough to show they reduce
the death rate from testicular cancer. "Without that evidence, the
American Cancer Society cannot make a recommendation on regular
testicular self-exams for all men. But we do think men should decide for
themselves whether or not to do regular exams."
Wednesday, June 19 2013 12:31 PM EDT2013-06-19 16:31:23 GMT
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