Cancer Worse Than Dad's
Sons of men
with testicular cancer may develop the disease at a much earlier
age than their fathers did, results of a new study suggest. The
sons may also develop a more severe form of the disease than their
"The most important
point of the study is that for father-son testicular tumors (i.e.
case histories where both the father and a son develop a testicular
tumor during their lifetime) the age of onset for the son is almost
20 years earlier than the age of onset for the father," chief investigator
Dr. Richard E. Peschel said.
In a study of
47 cases in which both the father and son developed testicular cancer
between 1972 and 1999, the sons developed the cancer at an earlier
age than their fathers (average age 27 years versus 43 years), suggesting
a phenomenon known as genetic anticipation. Overall, 43% of sons
had more severe disease than their father did, 47% had the same
disease severity and in 10% of cases, their disease was less severe,
according to the report in the May 15, 2000 issue of the journal
cancer is now the most common cancer in white males aged 20 to 34
years, according to Peschel, a professor of therapeutic radiology
from the Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut,
and co-author Dr. Stephanie Han. However, the cause of the illness
is unknown. Research shows that sons of men with testicular cancer
are 6 to 10 times more likely to develop the condition, which suggests
that the cancer may have a genetic component.
strongly suggest a genetic defect is responsible for many father-son
testicular tumors," Peschel noted. However, "Until the underlying
genetic etiology (cause) in father-son testicular tumor is better
defined, the concept of genetic anticipation is noteworthy but unproven,"
the authors write.
"For all males
with a family history of a father with a testicular tumor, the sons
should begin self-examination of the testes at a very early age
(less than 20 years old)," Peschel advised.
could have a greater impact on the sons than the fathers, according
to the report. Radiation therapy used to treat cancer can cause
a permanent low-sperm count that could interfere with their future
ability to have children. Also, both father and son have a 2% to
10% chance of developing a second cancer in the 15 to 25 years after
receiving radiation treatment.
Health, May 18, 2000 The Journal Cancer, May 15, 2000; 88:2319-2325