"Infertile men with abnormal semen analyses have a 20-fold greater incidence of testicular cancer compared to the general population," researchers write in The Journal of Urology.
The vast majority of infertile men studied didn't have testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is rare and often curable -- especially in its early stages.
Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer among men aged 15-35, the researchers note. They add that U.S. cases have increased in the last 25 years.
Standard Screening for Infertile Men
"Screening for testicular cancer could now become a standard part of all male infertility treatment," researcher Marc Goldstein, MD, FACS, says in a news release.
"Examination of all infertile men by a urologist may be justified," Goldstein says.
Goldstein is surgeon-in-chief of male reproductive medicine and surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He's also a professor of reproductive medicine and urology at Cornell University's Weill Medical College.
Male Infertility, Testicular Cancer Study
Goldstein and colleagues reviewed the medical records of more than 3,800 infertile men seen over a decade by a New York urologist.
All of the men had low sperm counts and/or other problems with their sperm, such as poor motility (motion) or morphology (shape).
A total of 10 men had testicular cancer. That's about 20 times higher than what would be expected in the general public, the researchers note.
Two of the men had a history of undescended testicle(s), a testicular cancer risk factor. Taking that into account didn't change the results much.
The researchers acknowledge that they studied a "highly selected group of men." Still, they don't note any reasons for infertile men to avoid testicular cancer screening.