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Testicular Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Screening - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Description of the Evidence


There is controversy regarding the clinical significance and management of CIS of the testis.[8] Treatment options for CIS include observation, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and orchiectomy. Although low-dose radiation therapy can preserve Leydig cell function and prevent GCT development, a conservative approach of observation may also be warranted. Individuals at high risk (e.g., cryptorchidism, atrophic testis, and intersex conditions) require close observation.

Evidence of Benefit Associated With Screening

The sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value of routine screening of asymptomatic men for testicular cancer are not known.[20,21] In a report of a single-center case series of men being evaluated for infertility, testicular symptoms, or erectile dysfunction, 1,320 men underwent testicular ultrasound.[22] Focal lesions were found in 27 (2%) men, 17 of the lesions were palpable and 10 were nonpalpable. Eighty percent of the lesions were ultimately shown to have benign histologies, for a positive predictive value of about 0.2. It is not clear if early discovery of the cancers resulted in clinical benefit, and the positive predictive value is likely to be lower in the target population of asymptomatic men in the screening setting.

Most testicular cancers are first detected by the patient, either unintentionally or by self-examination. Some are discovered by routine physical examination. However, no studies have been done to determine the effectiveness of testicular self-examination or clinical testicular examination in reducing mortality from testicular cancer. An updated systematic review performed on behalf of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, published in 2010, found no randomized trials, cohort studies, or case-control studies that examined benefits of testicular cancer screening (whether by physical examination, self-examination, or other screening tests) in an asymptomatic population.[21] Likewise, a systematic Cochrane Collaboration review found no randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effectiveness of screening by a health professional or patient self-examination.[23]

Screening would be very unlikely to decrease mortality substantially because therapy is so effective at virtually all stages of disease.[24](Refer to the PDQ summary on Testicular Cancer Treatment for more information.) However, early detection may affect therapy. There is an increase in both the number of courses of chemotherapy and the extent of surgery required for treatment of advanced disease that results in higher morbidity. Patients diagnosed with localized disease require less treatment and have lower morbidity.[25]

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