Is there a link between testicular microlithiasis and testicular cancer?
Answer From Erik P. Castle, M.D.
Testicular microlithiasis (tes-TIK-yoo-lur my-kroh-lih-THIE-uh-sis) is an uncommon condition — diagnosed during a testicular ultrasound — in which small clusters of calcium form in the testicles.
A number of studies show a relationship between testicular microlithiasis and testicular cancer. However, it remains unclear whether having testicular microlithiasis is an independent risk factor for testicular cancer.
Most studies of testicular microlithiasis involve men who had testicular ultrasounds done for some other reason, such as swelling, pain or infertility. In these studies, there appears to be a relative association between testicular microlithiasis and testicular cancer.
However, studies of healthy men with no symptoms show that testicular microlithiasis is much more common than is testicular cancer. As a result, researchers believe that testicular microlithiasis is unlikely to increase an otherwise healthy man's risk of testicular cancer.
If you have testicular microlithiasis, your medical history will likely affect your doctor's follow-up recommendations. For example:
Sept. 28, 2016
- You are healthy and have no symptoms or risk factors for testicular cancer. No other testing is needed. However, your doctor might recommend that you do regular testicular self-exams and make an appointment if you find any unusual lumps.
- You have other risk factors for testicular cancer. If you have other risk factors for testicular cancer, such as a previously undescended testicle, your doctor might recommend close follow-up with annual testicular ultrasound scans.
See more Expert Answers
- Michaelson MD, et al. Epidemiology of and risk factors for testicular germ cell tumors. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 4, 2016.
- Greene MH, et al. Familial testicular germ cell tumors (FTGCT) — Overview of a multidisciplinary etiologic study. Andrology. 2015;3:47.
- Pedersen MR, et al. Testicular microlithiasis and testicular cancer: Review of the literature. International Urology and Nephrology. 2016;48:1079.
- Wang T, et al. A meta-analysis of the relationship between testicular microlithiasis and incidence of testicular cancer. Urology Journal. 2015;12:2057.
- Patel KV, et al. Testicular microlithiasis: Is sonographic surveillance necessary? Sincle Centre 14 year experience in 442 patients with testicular microlithiasis. Ultraschall in der Medizin. 2016;37:68.
- Cooper ML, et al. Testicular microlithiasis in children and associated testicular cancer. Radiology. 2014;270:857.
- Suominen JS, et al. Testicular microlithiasis and associated testicular malignancies in childhood: A systematic review. Pediatric Blood and Cancer. 2015;62:385.