Writing in Europe's leading reproductive medical journal Human Reproduction today (Thursday 3 March), doctors from the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen report the first diagnosis of pre-invasive testicular carcinoma in situ (CIS) in a semen sample from a 23-year-old man. The man had been included in the researchers' study as a supposedly healthy control, with suspected infertility problems but no suspicion of cancer.
There are about 13,200 new cases of testicular cancer each year in Europe and it is the commonest cancer in men between the ages of 20 and 39. Nowadays more than 90% of cases can be cured, especially if caught early. However, it is often difficult to detect the cancer before it has started to spread. This means that surgery is usually accompanied by chemotherapy or radiotherapy, both of which may cause infertility.
The study's lead author, Dr Christina E. Hoei-Hansen, a doctor and PhD student, said: "In earlier studies it was found that CIS cells could be found in semen samples of patients with testicular cancer. However it was difficult and time-consuming to detect these CIS cells and the methods were not sufficiently reliable to be used for diagnostic purposes in the clinic."
In a recent study the researchers had found the TFAP2C gene, which produces a protein called AP-2y (transcription factor activator protein-2), was expressed in CIS and therefore provided a marker for detecting the cancer. "The AP-2y protein is not expressed in the normal adult reproductive tract, but is abundant in the nuclei of CIS and tumour cells and it does not degrade substantially in semen," said Dr Hoei-Hansen. "This prompted us to start this current study where we have analysed the value of AP-2y for det
Contact: Emma Mason
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology