OBJECTIVE: Carcinoma in situ (CIS) is accepted as the precursor of the germ cell tumors of the adult testis. CIS cells are located within the seminiferous tubules and can be exfoliated into semen. We performed a study to detect CIS cells in semen using the highly specific immunohistochemical marker OCT3/4, potentially a method for noninvasive diagnosis.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: In 2006, 41 men at risk for CIS of the testis were found eligible for this study. Indications for inclusions were a suspicious lesion on scrotal ultrasound investigation (n=14), patients on surveillance after a history of a testicular tumor (n=14), and 13 patients with bilateral testicular microlithiasis (TM).
RESULTS: Three of the 13 men (23%) who underwent testicular biopsies for bilateral TM were histologically diagnosed with CIS (two bilateral), and their semen showed OCT3/4-positive cells in all cases. Twelve of the 14 patients (86%) with a solid mass were diagnosed with a TGCT with adjacent CIS in the parenchyma, and in 9 cases (75%) OCT3/4-positive cells were present in the semen. No OCT3/4-positive cells were found in patients with biopsies who did not show any evidence of malignancy.
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that OCT3/4-positive cells can be found in semen from the majority of patients with CIS. The observations indicate that there is probably a time window in which the CIS cells are exfoliated, which gives an opportunity for early detection of CIS cells in semen of men at risk for TGCT.