Boys born with undescended testicles more likely to develop cancer

By Rob Dabrowski on 31 August 2018 Research Cancer

Boys with undescended testes have 2.4 times the risk of adult testicular cancer compared to unaffected boys, according to new research. 

They also have a 20% lower chance of paternity in adulthood compared to unaffected boys, and were more than twice as likely to use assisted reproductive technology for infertility as adults, it is claimed.

The statements come from a population-based cohort study to assess both adult fertility and cancer risk after surgical correction (orchidopexy) for undescended testes in early childhood. 

The University of Sydney study included 350,835 boys born in Western Australia between 1970 and 1999. 

They were followed until 2016 by linking to data registries for hospital admissions, birth defects, cancer, and assisted reproductive technologies.

Another key finding was the risk of testicular cancer increased by 6% with each six-month increase in age at time of surgery.

Professor Natasha Nassar, the study's senior author, said: ‘The study provides new evidence to support international guidelines recommending surgery before 18 months for boys with undescended testes to reduce the risk of both testicular cancer and infertility later in life.’

Francisco Schneuer, from the University of Sydney, added: ‘Before this study, there was no evidence-based information on the impact of early surgery on the future risk of testicular cancer and infertility in adult males.’ 

The study has been published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. For more information, click here.