Pre-natal and Peri-natal Exposures and Risk of Testicular Germ-cell Cancer

Hannah K. Weir, Loraine D. Marrett, Nancy Kreiger, et al.
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Reviewers: Li Liu, MD
Source: International Journal of Cancer, Volume 87:438-443, (August) 2000

Précis: In utero estrogen exposure is linked to testicular germ-cell cancer


The causes of testicular cancer are unknown, but both genetic and environmental factors probably play a role. Some studies suggested that estrogen level during gestation might have an impact on the development of testicular cancer (International Journal of Cancer 1998 Oct 5;78(2):140-3). In this study, the researchers examined the association of maternal hormone exposure and risk of testicular germ-cell cancer.


The investigators interviewed more than 500 men with testicular cancer and 346 of their mothers, as well as nearly 1,000 matched controls and half of their mothers.


  • Exposure to exogenous hormones, preterm birth and first birth to a young mother were associated with an increased risk of testicular cancer.
  • Maternal smoking during pregnancy, which is believed to have an "anti-estrogen" effect, was associated with a decreased risk of cancer.
  • Bleeding or threatened miscarriage was associated with a reduced risk of cancer.


In spite of remarkable improvements in cure rates, testicular cancer remains a serious disease that calls for identification of causes. In this study, prenatal exposure to maternal hormones, especially estrogen, appeared to be associated with subsequent risk of developing testicular germ-cell cancer. The etiology of testicular cancer is believed to be multifactorial. Further investigation is warranted to identify other potential risk factors.