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Higher Cancer Risk for Boys Born With Undescended Testicle

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Boys who are born with an undescended testicle are at an increased risk of developing testicular cancer later in life, a new study has concluded.

The report, based on data collected from previous studies, found that boys born with one or both testes undescended were almost three times as likely as others to develop cancer.

The condition, known as cryptorchidism, affects about 6 percent of all newborn boys. 

The researchers behind the study trawled publicly medical databases containing information on more than 2 million boys whose health was tracked for a cumulative period of 58 million years. Boys with cryptorchidism who developed testicular cancer totaled 345. Boys with cryptorchidism in the case-control group were 2.9 times as likely to develop testicular cancer as those without the condition.

The authors of the new analysis found that further research was needed to ascertain how the length of a testicle's descent affects the cancer risk.

The question this study raises, the study's authors conclude, "is whether the risk of malignant transformation is sufficiently significant to warrant regular follow-up, as is the case with other premalignant states."

Plus: Benefits of Circumcision

Another, unrelated study found that prenatal exposure to common household flame retardants may increase the risk of congenital cryptorchidism. 

Flame retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ethers can be found in computers, couches, carpets, toys and many other common items, including baby products like strollers and nursing pillows.

In many cases, undescended testes come down on their own in the first few months of a baby's life. But, if they don’t, doctors do recommend surgery to correct the problem when the boy is between 6 and 18 months old.

Boys and men with a history of cryptorchidism are urged to be more vigilant about doing self-exams.

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