. Scientific Frontline: Increased risk of testicular cancer in people with neuropsychiatric disabilities

Monday, April 24, 2023

Increased risk of testicular cancer in people with neuropsychiatric disabilities

Left: Ingrid Glimelius, professor at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University
Right: Anna Jansson, PhD student at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University
Photo Credit: Ewa Ahlin

A new study from researchers at Uppsala University and the Academic Hospital shows that men who have a neuropsychiatric disability, such as autism and ADHD, also have a slightly increased risk of suffering from the testicular cancer form seminoma. This is the first study to show such a relationship and the results are published in the scientific journal British Journal of Cancer.

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer disease in young men and the underlying causes are still very unknown.

"Since you can have a testicular cancer removed and thus cure the disease, it is important to seek care on time if you feel a lump in the testicle", says Ingrid Glimelius, chief physicist at the oncology clinic, Academic Hospital, and professor at Uppsala University.

The new study has focused on patients who have had testicular cancer in Sweden. A total of 6,166 patients have been included and compared with 61,660 age-matched but without testicular cancer. Registry data have been invested where psychiatric diagnoses prior to cancer diagnosis were more common in patients affected by testicular cancer than in the control group.

Overall, the researchers found no increased risk of testicular cancer if they had a psychiatric diagnosis, but precisely for the group of people who had a neuropsychiatric diagnosis, a significant increase in the risk of suffering from the testicular cancer type was found.

Although the researchers found that there was an increased risk of people with neuropsychiatric diagnoses suffering from seminoma, the absolute risk increase was below one percent. Thus, the risk of suffering from testicular cancer is still very low even among boys and men with, for example, autism and ADHD, and there is no reason to be worried if you have these diagnoses. However, the results are of interest in trying to get closer to an explanation of the emergence mechanisms for testicular cancer.

- In the study we could also see that people who had a neuropsychiatric disability in the median were four years younger when they became ill with the cancer and that they more often had a more advanced disease at diagnosis, says Ingrid Glimelius.

- We also saw that people with a previous psychiatric diagnosis had a slightly increased risk of dying from their testicular cancer compared to people without a previous psychiatric diagnosis, although the survival of testicular cancer overalls was very good in both groups, says Anna Jansson, doctoral student at Uppsala University and doctor at the Academic Hospital.

This is the first time a research study has shown an association between neuropsychiatric disability and the risk of testicular cancer. Examples of risk factors that you have known before are whether you as a baby have a non-migrated testicle or if you have a father or brother with testicular cancer.

"We do not know why we see a link between neuropsychiatric diagnoses and the risk of testicular cancer, but we believe that early life events affect. Maybe even as early as during the fetal stage", says Anna Jansson.

"Since we see a deteriorating survival in people with mental illness, it is important that the care, the people themselves and even close relatives pay attention to the fact that you can also suffer from other ill health and feel a lump in the testicle, you should seek care. This disease can be cured in most people today", says Ingrid Glimelius.

Published in journalBritish Journal of Cancer

Additional information: The specific cause of testicular cancer is unknown, but some risk factors are known, such as that about 10% of those affected have been operated on for an immigrated testicle in childhood and that they see a hereditary tendency of about 1-3% of those who get the disease. The risk is considered greatest if you have a brother who has also had testicular cancer.

The treatment is to remove the diseased testicle. You can also cure the disease if it spreads outside the testicle with the help of cytostatic drugs, which means that testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers today.

Source/CreditUppsala University

Reference Number: med042423_01

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