Exogenous estrogen therapy, testicular cancer, and the male to female transgender population: a case report
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BACKGROUND: Over the last 40 years, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of testicular cancer. The epidemiologic evidence to understand this phenomenon is unclear, however exogenous estrogen exposure is thought to be a driver in the development of testicular cancer. This is of particular importance in the transgender population because utilization of exogenous estrogen therapy is an essential aspect of the transition process. CASE: We present the case of a 38-year-old Caucasian male to female transgender patient who presented with metastatic testicular cancer 15 months after initiating estrogen therapy. She presented to our emergency department with worsening back pain and fatigue. A clinical examination revealed a right-sided testicular mass. A computed tomography scan of her abdomen/pelvis identified a right groin lesion measuring 6.4 cm, a retroperitoneal mass causing right-sided hydronephrosis, an extensive deep vein thrombosis, and pathologic abdominal lymphadenopathy. Germ cell tumor markers revealed an alpha-fetoprotein of < 2.5 μg/L and a beta-human chorionic gonadotrophin of 2526 IU/L. Her lactate dehydrogenase was 5294 U/L. Medical oncology advised the discontinuation of hormonal therapy at this time. On the basis of elevation in germ cell tumor markers and the burden of disease, she was treated with four cycles of bleomycin, etoposide, and cisplatin chemotherapy. A decision to defer upfront radical inguinal orchiectomy was made due to not wanting to have an early interruption in anticoagulation. Following the completion of the chemotherapy, a 6 cm retroperitoneal mass persisted. Due to the location of the mass and surgical morbidity associated with excision, she was followed with positron emission tomography-computed tomography by Uro-oncology, with no evidence of recurrent disease 2 years since the time of diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS: While there are recognized risks associated with estrogen therapy less is known about the extent to which exogenous estrogen can serve as a driver of malignancy. With recent experimental evidence revealing a pro-growth impact of estrogen on human testicular cells, continued reporting of similar cases in the literature is imperative to see if a link between exogenous estrogen exposure and testicular cancer exists.
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