New Hope against Testicular Cancer
An important new tumor marker for testicular cancer has been discovered by Dr. Klaus-Peter Dieckmann, expert for testicular tumors and medical director of the Hodentumorenzentrum Hamburg in the Asklepios Clinic Altona, and other biological scientists at the University of Bremen. After years of research, the marker repeatedly was found in blood samples. The team reports that the marker has proven to be reliable in diagnosing cancer in young men. It may become an invaluable tool for early diagnosis, and is an important tumor marker for testicular cancer in the blood. In further studies, researchers will provide their recommendations regarding its value for early and reliable diagnosis, appropriate therapy options and follow-up will be explored.
These biomarkers are able to be detected, through simple blood tests, in the early stages of potential testicular tumors. These markers would have far-reaching effects as the testicles are the site of the most common malignant tumor disease in young men—leading it to be referred to as "the young man's cancer." In fact, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 20 and 40 worldwide. In Germany, approximately 4,000 men are diagnosed with new cases every year, and in Hamburg alone, about 200 men are diagnosed annually. And these numbers are on the rise. The reason for this increase is unknown but modern-day, environmental influences are most likely the cause.
The biomarker, now known as M371, is produced by the testicular cancer cells and released into the bloodstream, where it can be detected by blood screening tests. Dr. Dieckmann and the Bremen team were able to show that even very small tumors (>1 cm in diameter) release the biomarker. "This is a big step forward," says Dr. Dieckmann, "because the M371 test is applicable to more than 90% of all testicular tumors." Previously known marker substances are only found in about 50% of all patients. A newly-developed, more specific blood test is in development and will facilitate both safe and early detection, and thereby the chances of recovery and long-term aftercare. He reported that the new test may make harmful, burdensome and expensive X-ray examinations and tests no longer necessary during post-cancer follow-up. These developments may save patients, doctors and insurance companies alike valuable resources, time and money in the long run.