The unidentified patient took the test left in his apartment by an ex-girlfriend as a joke, but was shocked to discover two pink lines indicating pregnancy.
The patient, who has not been identified, took the test left in his apartment by an ex-girlfriend as a joke, but was shocked to discover two pink lines indicating pregnancy.
Out of curiosity, he told a friend about this unusual yet puzzling story. His friend decided it was hilarious, so he made the story into a typical cartoon and posted it online.
The top comment by user goxilo stated: “If this is true, you should check yourself for testicular cancer. Seriously. Google it.”
The Reddit user who put up the cartoon passed on the concerned comments to his friend on Monday, the man made an appointment with a doctor
who diagnosed him with cancer after detecting a tiny tumor in his right testicle.
THE RESULT: In an update, the online user revealed that a medical examination has revealed a small cancerous lump in his friend’s right testicle, which will likely have to be removed. Image via Reddit.
Findings and Analysis
Home pregnancy tests work by detecting the hormone Beta-HCG, which is produced by cells in the placenta during pregnancy. Experts say some testicular cancer tumours – and other types of tumours – also excrete Beta-HCG. Thus, a home pregnancy test could indeed indicate testicular cancer.
In an article published by ABC News, Dr. Mark Pomerantz, a genitourinary oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, addressed and cleared some points about the case.
“It turns out a fair number of testicular cancers make the same exact hormone,” he said. “There are very few things in the body that produce beta hCG, and testicular cancer is one of them.”
Pomerantz said the vast majority of testicular cancer cases – even those where the illness is caught at a later stage – are very curable.
“The testicle usually has to come out. But we’re lucky with this disease, in that the vast majority of cases — even if they’re caught further along — are still very curable,” said Pomerantz.
The 5-year survival rate for testicular cancer confined to the testicle is 99 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. Even if the disease has spread to nearby lymph nodes and other organs, the 5-year survival rate is 72 percent – without natural therapy.
“It’s one of the only solid tumors that can be reliably cured even if it has metastasized,” said Pomerantz.
According to the American Cancer Society, the problem is that only a small minority of men with testicular cancer will have high enough levels of the hormone to be detected by a home pregnancy test.
Therefore, a man could still have testicular cancer even if a pregnancy test provided a negative result. And, some non-cancerous conditions can also give positive results for Beta-HCG.
While a positive pregnancy test can be a fluky clue, the first sign of testicular cancer is usually a painless lump.
“It’s typically spotted by the guy himself,” said Dr. Christopher Wood, professor and deputy chairman of urology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “We recommend men do self-exam in the shower once a month to make sure there aren’t any major changes.”
Once a diagnosis of testicular cancer has been made, beta-HCG is a good indicator of the tumor’s response to treatment.
“If the patient had elevated levels before surgery, you would expect them to return to normal afterward,” said Wood. “If they don’t, it means there are residual cancer cells that have to be treated with chemotherapy.”
The American Cancer Society cites that testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms of cancer.
If the cancer hasn’t spread outside the testicle, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99 percent. Even if the cancer has grown into nearby structures or has spread to nearby lymph nodes, the rate is 96 percent. If it has spread to organs or lymph nodes away from the tumor, the 5-year relative survival rate is around 74 percent.
These numbers give you an overall picture, but keep in mind that every person’s situation is unique and the statistics can’t predict exactly what will happen in your case. Many other factors can affect a person’s outlook, such as your age, the type of testicular cancer, and how well the cancer responds to treatment.
As it turns out, home pregnancy tests can detect testicular cancer. However, the tests may not detect cancer in all cases (or even in most cases), but if any man takes a test and it is positive, talk with your healthcare team. They know your situation best.
Gil Wayne, RN