Improving quality of life through early detection.
Testicular germ cell cancer is the most common cancer in male adolescents - accounting for 15 per cent of all malignancies - yet due to the excellent five-year survival rate (over 95 per cent) novel methods for detection and treatment are not prioritised and receive little to no research funding.
Although treatment is usually life-sparing, these young men must live with the long-term side effects of treatment, sometimes for up to 80+ years. Effects of successful treatment may include hypogonadism, life-time testosterone treatment and infertility, as well as a high risk of developing metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and other cancers.
Following orchiectomy, germ cell tumours will relapse in up to 35 per cent of cases, requiring salvage chemotherapy to treat metastases which most commonly arise in the retroperitoneum, pelvic lymph nodes and lung. The five-year survival rate following secondary neoplasm diagnosis is just 41 per cent.
Germ cell cancer is a good candidate for early detection/screening: There are several well-defined risk factors for developing germ cell cancer, including family history, cryptorchidism (undescended testes) and/or testis dysgenesis identified at birth, and sub-fertility, making the approach of selective screening extremely viable and attractive.
This project aims to develop a test to detect pre-cancerous testicular cells. Such detection would greatly minimise the need for chemotherapy because orchiectomy followed by surveillance can be enough treatment when some tumours are detected early.