Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Why Men can get Positive Pregnancy Test Results?

“Men may get positive pregnancy test result.” This statement sounds funny right? Wrong! Some time back in November 2012, a comic was uploaded by a Reddit user, where his friend tries his ex-fiancé’s unused pregnancy test and gets shocked when he gets the positive result. It started as a joke but ended up as a serious concern when people left comments advising to get checked for testicular cancer. Yes, it actually turned out to be a testicular tumor, as confirmed by a follow-up comic informing the Redditors that her friend got himself checked by the doctors who found a small tumor in his right testicle and thanking them for their advises.

In pregnant women the developing placenta produces a hormone; beta human chorionic gonadotropin hormone which is a reliable marker that indicates pregnancy and is the foundation of pregnancy tests.  Though there is no standard or routine screening test used for early detection of testicular cancer, men having testicular cancers have the same beta human chorionic gonadotrophin (beta-HCG) chemical that can be detected by home pregnancy tests. It is also produced in women with types of ovarian cancer, trophoblastic tumor (uterine cancer) and a mole which grows inside the uterus during the pregnancy. Quantitative blood tests can confirm the presence of this hormone.

But can pregnancy test be considered as a reliable criterion for the diagnosis of testicular cancer? The American Cancer Society reveals that only a minority of men with testicular cancer have high enough levels of the hormone to be detected by a home pregnancy test. Therefore, it is still possible for a man to have testicular cancer even if a pregnancy test provided a negative result. And, some non-cancerous conditions can also give positive results for Beta-HCG. Though online comments suggest that men should regularly perform pregnancy tests as a way of screening for testicular cancer, but actually this widespread pregnancy testing of men would mean a lot of unnecessary diagnostic tests and procedures, which carry their own small risks.

Compared to other cancers, deaths from testicular cancer are rare. They are the most common type of cancer in men in 15-34 years of age and are highly treatable. Even cases of more advanced testicular cancer, where the cancer has spread outside the testicles to nearby tissue, have an 80% chance of being cured. They are often first detected by the patient discovering a lump or swelling in a testicle, often associated with testicular pain or discomfort, testicular enlargement, aches in the abdomen, back, or groin, or a fluid collection in the scrotum. The two main types of testicular tumors are seminoma and nonseminoma.  Non-seminomas tend to grow and spread more quickly than seminomas.

Testicular cancer can be cured by surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy but side effects like infertility may occur. Therefore, men willing to have children may want to use sperm banking to store their sperm before they begin treatment. As the testicular cancer may recur, follow-up treatment is necessary which may involve regular blood tests and possibly CT scans.

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