Infertile men at higher risk for prostate cancer


Infertile men have an increased risk of developing high grade prostate cancer, which is more likely to grow and spread more quickly than other types of prostate cancers. A new study published by Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, came to this conclusion. As a result, male infertility is an identifiable risk factor for prostate cancer and early screening may be warranted.

In the past research has focused on the number of children a man has in order to determine his fertility and potential for prostate cancer risk. Studies using this criteria have had conflicting results. Some studies find that men with children have a higher risk of certain types of cancers. Other studies completely contradict those conclusions.
And some studies show equal occurrences of prostate cancer regardless of the number of children.

However, the number of children a man fathers may not accurately reflect his fertility. Thomas Walsh, MD of the University of Washington in Seattle and his colleague designed a more accurate study to evaluate the association between male infertility an prostate cancer. They studied the risk for prostate cancer in a group of over 22,000 men determined to be infertile from 1967 to 1998 from 15 California infertility centers. The incidence of prostate cancer in these men was compared to the incidence in a sample group of the general population.

The researchers identified 168 cases of prostate cancer in the infertile group. That number was not substantially different from the control group that experienced 185 cases. However, the infertile group were 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with high grade prostate cancer than men from the general population.

If these results are further supported in other studies, then men diagnosed with infertility will surely need to be prescreened for the aggressive cancer. Additionally, these results should inspire further research on the possible connections between infertility and cancer.

Source: American Cancer Society, Medical News Today


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