Early and repeated exposures to diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays and CT scans, may increase the risk of testicular cancer, suggests a new study from Penn Medicine researchers published online in PLOS ONE.
“The steady rise in testicular germ cell tumor (TGCT) cases over the past three or four decades suggests there is an environmental exposure risk at play, but no definitive risk factor has ever been identified,” says senior author Katherine L. Nathanson, deputy director of Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center and Pearl Basser Professor of BRCA-Related Research in the Perelman School of Medicine. “Our data suggests that the increased use of diagnostic radiation below the waist in men over that same time may contribute to the increase in incidence.”
Kevin Nead, who conducted the study while in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Penn and is now at MD Anderson Cancer Center, serves as the lead author.
Radiation is a known risk factor for cancer due to its ability to damage DNA. When cells are unable to appropriately repair damaged DNA, cancer causing genetic mutations may result.
“If our results are validated, efforts to reduce medically unnecessary and avoidable testicular exposure should be considered, in part through efforts to reduce radiation dose and optimize shielding practices when appropriate,” the authors write.
Read more at Penn Medicine News.