Is there a link between testicular microlithiasis and testicular cancer?
Answer From Patricio C. Gargollo, M.D.
Testicular microlithiasis (tes-TIK-yoo-lur my-kroh-lih-THIE-uh-sis) is a condition in which small clusters of calcium form in the testicles. It can be detected on an ultrasound exam of the scrotum.
Several studies show a relationship between testicular microlithiasis and testicular cancer. But it is not clear whether having testicular microlithiasis is an independent risk factor for testicular cancer.
Most studies of testicular microlithiasis have relied on data collected from scrotal ultrasounds done for some other reason, such as swelling, pain or an undescended testicle. In these studies, there appears to be an association between testicular microlithiasis and testicular cancer.
However, studies involving healthy participants 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 the risk of testicular cancer in someone who is otherwise healthy.
If you have testicular microlithiasis, your health care provider will likely consider your medical history when suggesting any follow-up recommendations. For example:
- You are healthy and have no symptoms or risk factors for testicular cancer. Your provider might suggest 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 provider might suggest close follow-up with annual ultrasound exams.
Nov. 05, 2021
Patricio C. Gargollo, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Michaelson MD, et al. Epidemiology of and risk factors for testicular germ cell tumors. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Oct. 11, 2021.
- Winter TC, et al. Testicular microlithiasis: What should you recommend? American Journal of Roentgenology. 2016; doi:10.2214/AJR.15.15226.
- 't Hoen LA, et al. The prognostic value of testicular microlithiasis as an incidental finding for the risk of testicular malignancy in children and the adult population: A systematic review. Journal of Pediatric Urology. 2021; doi:10.1016/j.jpurol.2021.06.013.
- Cooper ML, et al. Testicular microlithiasis in children and associated testicular cancer. Radiology. 2014; doi:10.1148/radiol.13130394.