Undescended Testes Tied to Higher Risk of Cancer, Infertility

FRIDAY, Aug. 31, 2018 — Young boys with undescended testes are at increased risk for testicular cancer and infertility in adulthood, new research suggests.

Undescended testes are the most common birth defect in infant boys, affecting one in 100. Corrective surgery is required.

For the new study, researchers examined data on nearly 351,000 boys who were born in Australia between 1970 and 1999, and followed until 2016.

Boys born with undescended testes had 2.4 times the risk of adult testicular cancer compared to other boys, the University of Sydney researchers reported.

And that risk rose 6 percent with each six-month delay of corrective surgery. The operation, called an orchidopexy, moves an undescended testicle into the scrotum and permanently fixes it there. Guidelines recommend the surgery before 18 months of age.

Boys with undescended testes were 20 percent less likely to father children, and were more than twice as likely to use assisted reproductive technology, according to the study.

“The study provides new evidence to support international guidelines recommending surgery before 18 months for boys with undescended testes to reduce the risk of both testicular cancer and infertility later in life,” senior author Natasha Nassar, an epidemiologist, said in a university news release.

More than three-quarters of boys with undescended testes worldwide have the surgery after 18 months of age, the study authors noted.

Study leader Francisco Schneuer said this was the first “evidence-based information on the impact of early surgery on future risk of testicular cancer and infertility in adult males.” Schneuer is a postdoctoral research fellow.

“Early diagnosis, ongoing examination and monitoring by parents and health practitioners, and timely referral to surgery of boys with undescended testes is important to ensure adherence with guidelines,” Schneuer said.

“Early surgery can reduce the risk of malignancy and male infertility, and ultimately has the potential to reduce future adult male reproductive disorders,” he concluded.

The report was published Aug. 29 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

More information

The Urology Care Foundation has more on undescended testes.

Posted: August 2018

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