Testicular cancer rates are increasing more than three percent per year among young Hispanic men, at a time when rates among non-Hispanic white men are remaining steady, according to a new study.
Testicular tumors are already among the most common cancers for men between 15 and 39 years old. But they are also among the most curable, with more than 90 percent of men living at least 10 years after diagnosis.
The number of new testicular cancers diagnosed each year ranges from 1.4 for every 100,000 black men to 6.6 per 100,000 white men, with rates for Hispanic men falling in between, at about 4.7 cases per 100,000 men per year.
Dr. Rebecca H. Johnson and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle used a large database from the National Cancer Institute to examine trends in testicular cancer rates in Hispanic and non-Hispanic adolescents and young adults over the past two decades.
What they found surprised them: while testicular cancer rates increased by about 3.8 percent per year among Hispanic white men over the most recent 10 years, rates didn’t change at all among non-Hispanic white men.
These rates increased in all age groups and across all stages of cancer among Hispanic men up to age 39. But only the group of non-Hispanic white men in their 20s and early 30s showed a significant but much smaller increase.
This does not just reflect a general increase in cancer rates among Hispanic adolescents and young adults: the overall cancer rate neither increased nor decreased between 1992 and 2010, according to results published in Cancer.
Researchers say they don’t know why testicular cancer rates are increasing among Hispanic adolescents and young adults, but they are concerned that “the rate of testicular germ cell tumors among Hispanic whites may overtake that among non-Hispanic whites if the observed trends persist.”
“I think the most important message is that testicular cancer is common in this age group and in this population and that we need to provide early and prompt care to these patients,” Dr. Nicholas G. Cost told Reuters Health in an email. He has studied testicular cancer in children, adolescents and adults at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas but wasn’t involved in the new research.
“All male adolescent and young adult patients should be made aware by their primary care provider about the risks of testicular cancer, regardless of ethnicity,” Cost said.
Dr. Scott Eggener from The University of Chicago, who recently completed a similar study of testicular cancer trends, agreed.
“Rates of testicular cancer are increasing in the United States and Europe,” he told Reuters Health in an email. “The reasons are unknown but important to identify in future research.”
“When diagnosed in a timely fashion, testicular cancer has a very high cure rate,” Eggener said. “Improved awareness among men and their physicians may lead to earlier diagnosis and better long-term outcome.”
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government-backed panel, recommends against screening for testicular cancer in adolescent and adult men. It says most cases are discovered “accidentally” by men or their partners, treatment has good outcomes - even in cases of advanced disease - and screening could lead to false-positives and harms from related tests and procedures.
According to the American Cancer Society, the most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump on one testicle.