Can Pregnancy Test Kits Detect Prostate Cancer?

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By Jesselle Maminta | January 29, 2014 11:45 PM EST

Have you heard the meme about a man getting a positive result in the home pregnancy test? It all started when a male Reddit user posted a photo of a pregnancy test with a positive result.

According to him, he was going through his medicine cabinet and found the kit his ex-girlfriend has left there. Out of curiosity, he used it on himself and was surprised to find the test turned out positive.

His post received more than 1,300 comments within 3 days, the most prominent of which was from that of a Redditor.

"You may have testicular cancer! Get to an oncologist, tell them you took a pregnancy test and it came out positive." True enough, after he consulted an oncologist, the man was found to have a lump in his testicles.

Since then, the meme circulated like wildfire all over social media sites. But the question remained, does this technique really helps detect testicular cancer early on?

Pregnancy tests usually detect beta human chorionic gonadotrophin or beta hCG, a hormone normally present to pregnant women due to the placenta that produces the same and circulates it through the blood, and eventually discharged through urine. But various health reports said this similar hormome can also signal testicular cancer among men.

"There are very few things in the body that produce beta hCG and testicular cancer is one of them," Dr. Mark Pomerantz, a genitourinary oncologist at the Dana-Farber Institute in Boston, told ABC News.

But this does not mean that men can screen for testicular cancer through a pregnancy kit on a regular basis. According to the American Cancer Society, such hormone is present to "some, but not all testicular cancers."

"At the time of diagnosis, only a small minority of men with testicular cancer have HCG levels high enough to be detected by a home urine pregnancy test," Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, told CNN.

"More sensitive blood tests for HCG with a lower cutoff level could detect a somewhat higher percentage, but several non-cancerous conditions can cause false positive results."

Dr. Gansler added other forms of cancer may also emit beta hCG, which may also cause a positive pregnancy test result.

Many experts suggested checking the testicles regularly for lumps for possible signs of testicular cancer. But the group did not recommend self-examination, as it does not significantly reduces deaths from the cancer, unlike that of breast cancer where early detection is key to successful treatment of the disease.

"Without that evidence, the American Cancer Society cannot make a recommendation on regular testicular self-exams for all men," the Society said. "But we do think men should decide for themselves whether or not to do regular exams."

There's nothing wrong with trying to detect cancer with an a home pregnancy test kit, but do not rely on this test alone. Even women can get false alarms with positive pregnancy test results. The best strategy is to see a specialist. Have yourself examined for testicular cancer or any kind of cancer, especially if it runs in your genes.

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