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The Role Of Genetics In Increasing The Risk Of Testicular Cancer

August 29th, 2017

The Role Of Genetics In Increasing The Risk Of Testicular Cancer

The Role Of Genetics In Increasing The Risk Of Testicular Cancer

Regardless of the cancer type, it is a known fact that DNA or human genetics plays a major role in the pathophysiology of cancers. It was previously estimated that about 20% of all the cancers are caused by a genetic predisposition. A latest research however suggests that DNA contribution is much higher in the pathophysiology of testicular cancer.

Role Of Genetics And Testicular Cancer

The risk of developing testicular cancer is inherited in at least half of the diagnosed cases. The research was conducted by Dr. Clare Turnbell and other team members from ICR, UK (Institute of Cancer Research), and some from US, Sweden and Germany and they reported their findings in the peer-reviewed journal ‘Scientific Reports’.

Dr. Turnbell, the senior researcher, believes that men who are likely to develop testicular cancer often inherit it due to family history of the disease. They suggested that if such men are screened, it would help in the patient care by diagnosing the men who are at high risk. In order to determine risks associated with germ-cell tumor of testicles, the research team came up with 2separate strategies. For the first approach, they compiled data of families with history of testicular cancer, from the database of Swedish Population Registry. They took under consideration thousands of cases of testicular cancer; ultimately choosing

Tumor Genetic Profiling for Cancer Patients image

9,324 that fits their criteria. The second approach was to study a sample of 6,000 men out of which 986 men were diagnosed with testicular cancer. These men were residents of UK. These men were also part of 2 related past studies.

The researchers found out that the risk of inheriting testicular cancer is actually linked to various minor alterations inthe DNA. Their findings suggested that 49% risk factors associated with testicular cancer are solely inherited. The team also speculated that it’s not a single genetic mutation that accounts for increased likelihood of developing testicular cancer but various alterations in the DNA coding that are usually too minor but impose a greater risk nevertheless.

What To Understand From This Study?

Dr. Turnbell believes that their study showed positive evidence of how testicular cancer is inheritable. When 50% of the contributing risk factors are based on the behavioral and environmental parameters, the remaining risk percentage is entirely based on inheriting the genes from the parents. The findings of the study also proposed that the genetic mutations that have already been discovered to promote testicular cancer, only increased the risk by 9.1% which suggests that the 40% of the inherited risk is based on genetic mutations that haven’t been yet discovered and known.

The researchers found the results of their findings to be very promising. Dr. Turnbell thinks that after such evident findings the first step should be to focus on discovering other underlying genetic markers that play a key role in increasing the risk of testicular cancer. Their study showed how much information is still required to fully assess the various aspects of the disease. The researchers are motivated to take the study to the next level and investigate the several involved genetic mutations on a large-scale to further understand and determine the inherited risk factors associated to testicular cancer.


  • Litchfield, K., Levy, M., Orlando, G., Loveday, C., Law, P. J., Migliorini, G., … & Kristiansen, W. (2017). Identification of 19 new risk loci and potential regulatory mechanisms influencing susceptibility to testicular germ cell tumor. Nature genetics, 49(7), 1133-1140.

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