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Perinatal Hormonal Biomarkers and Risk of Testicular Germ Cell Tumors

University of California Berkeley
Catherine Metayer, MD, PhD
Grant Type: 
Epidemiology Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
Germ Cell Tumor
Project Description: 


Testicular cancers are the most common cancers in adolescents and young adults. New testicular cases have increased dramatically in the US over the past 40 years especially among Hispanic Americans. Environmental factors are probably responsible for much of the increase as changes in population genetics do not occur within such a short period.  Because of the central role of estrogens and androgens in the development of the testis, researchers have hypothesized that exposure to too much or too little of these hormones (directly or following exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals such as organochlorines present in pesticides) play a dominant role in causing testicular cancer. Assessing whether exposure around the time of birth (i.e. the perinatal period) to varying amounts of specific sex hormones contributes to testicular cancer has proven challenging, mainly due to difficulties in obtaining blood samples reflective of perinatal hormone levels.

Project Goal

We will use advanced laboratory methods to measure sex hormones in archived dried bloodspot (DBS) specimens collected at birth from California-born males. Hormone levels will be compared between cases and controls overall, and by age, type of testicular cancer, and ethnic group.  Our study will be the first epidemiological study of testicular cancer to directly measure sex hormones at birth for infants and adolescents who were later diagnosed with testicular cancer.  Additionally, the study will be the first to examine perinatal sex hormone levels in Hispanic adolescents and infants.  The study will also contribute to future research on perinatal factors of other hormone-related cancers.

"The number of adolescents and young adults diagnosed with testicular cancer has increased dramatically in the US during the past 40 years, even more so among Hispanics.  With the support of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, we are able to conduct innovative research to discover the mechanisms that contribute to early-onset testicular cancer in an ethnically diverse population in California.  Our study is the first to measure estrogens and testosterone at birth and to determine whether levels of these hormones influence the risk of testicular cancers." -Catherine Metayer, MD/PhD