Increased incidence of Leydig cell tumours of the testis in the era of improved imaging techniques - Abstract

Departments of Urology and Radiology, Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.


Study Type - Diagnostic (exploratory cohort) Level of Evidence 2b.

What's known on the subject? and What does the study add? Leydig cell tumors (LCTs) of the testis are rare tumors, accounting for 1-3% of all testicular neoplasms. Our data indicate that using scrotal ultrasound with high resolution imaging in routine checkups leads to an earlier detection of LCTs. Most patients underwent an organ-sparing surgery and no androgen deprivation was observed.

To report an observed high frequency of Leydig cell tumours (LCTs) diagnosed at our centre.

Charts of all patients who underwent surgery for a testicular tumour between 1999 and 2008 at our department were searched and data from patients with LCT were collected. Before surgery all patients underwent ultrasound and complete staging. In all but two patients with LCT an organ-sparing surgery was performed. Surgery was performed under ultrasound or palpation guidance. All patients underwent postoperative follow-up. We retrospectively reviewed surgical technique, histology, epidemiology and outcome in all LCT patients.

In the study period, 197 testicular tumours were surgically removed of which 29 were diagnosed as LCT (14.7% of 197; further study group) in 25 patients. Mean age of patients with LCT was 45 years (range 21-68 years). Tumour size ranged from 1.2 to 80 mm (mean 10.23 mm). In two patients (8%) the lesion was palpable whereas incidental diagnosis was made in seven patients (28%). In the remaining patients diagnosis was made by ultrasound performed for testicular pain (six patients, 24%) or during infertility or erectile dysfunction evaluation (10 patients, 40%). Definitive histology reported no malignant histopathological features in all but one patient; this particular patient experienced tumour progression after 2 months and died from advanced disease 1 year later. All other patients are free of disease after a mean follow up of 56 months (range 7-93 months). During this period one patient developed a second LCT on the contralateral side; another patient had a recurrence within the same testicle, but on the opposite pole. Both underwent a subsequent organ-sparing tumour resection.

The percentage of LCT (14.7% of all testicular tumours removed) was significantly higher than expected from the literature. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is the increasing use of better ultrasound technology and the subsequent increased detection of small nodules that have not been found in historical series. Use of 'observation-only' for very small lesions detected at infertility clinics is under debate.

Written by:
Leonhartsberger N, Ramoner R, Aigner F, Stoehr B, Pichler R, Zangerl F, Fritzer A, Steiner H.   Are you the author?

Reference: BJU Int. 2011 Jun 1. Epub ahead of print.
doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2011.10177.x

PubMed Abstract
PMID: 21631694 Testicular Cancer Section