Neonatal Hormone Concentrations and Risk of Testicular Germ Cell Tumors (TGCT)

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2018 Apr;27(4):488-495. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0879. Epub 2018 Feb 23.


Background: Testicular germ cell tumor (TGCT) incidence has increased over the last 40 years in the United States. In contrast to TGCT among infants, it is hypothesized that TGCT in adolescents and young men is the result of sex steroid hormone imbalance during early fetal development. However, little is known about the neonatal period when abrupt hormonal changes occur, and direct supporting evidence is scarce due to the difficulties in obtaining prediagnostic specimens.Methods: We conducted a population-based case-control study examining hormone levels at birth among 91 infants (0-4 years) and 276 adolescents (15-19 years) diagnosed with TGCT, and 344 matched controls. Estrogen and androgen levels were quantified using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) from archived newborn dried blood spots. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the association between each hormone level and TGCT risk.Results: Higher levels of androstenedione were associated with increased TGCT risk among adolescents [odds ratio (OR): 2.33, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.37-3.97 for highest vs. lowest quartile; P trend = 0.003] but not among infants (OR: 0.70, 95% CI: 0.28-1.77). A similar pattern was observed for testosterone (OR: 1.73, 95% CI: 1.00-3.00,) although the trend was not significant (P trend = 0.12). Associations were stronger among non-Hispanic white subjects, relative to Hispanics. There was no difference by tumor histologic subtype. Estriol (the only detectable estrogen) was not associated with TGCT risk in either age group.Conclusions: Higher levels of neonatal androgens were associated with increased risk of TGCT among adolescents, suggesting that early life hormone levels are related to the later development of TGCT.Impact: This is the first study with direct measures of sex steroid hormones to examine the relationship between estrogens and androgens at birth and risk of adolescent TGCT. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 27(4); 488-95. ©2018 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Androgens / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Estrogens / blood*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Testicular Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens

Supplementary concepts

  • Testicular Germ Cell Tumor