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Some men treated for testicular cancer may be at increased risk of developing stomach cancer

Testicular cancer typically develops in one or both testicles in young men, but it can occur in older men as well. According to the American Cancer Society, it is a highly treatable and usually curable type of cancer.

Treatment options for testicular cancer typically focus on chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy, which involves the treatment of the cancer by means of X-rays or radioactive substances. Radiation is less often used to treat testicular cancer today than it was in the past, and when it is used, it is much more targeted and involves lower radiation doses than previously.

An international study involving researchers from the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center looked at more than 22,000 men who were diagnosed with testicular cancer between 1959 and 1987, when radiation doses were higher and less well-targeted. All of the study participants lived at least another five years after being treated for the disease.

The study found that those who had received any level of radiation therapy had nearly six times the risk of developing stomach cancer, compared with those who had not had any radiation at all. And those who had received very high doses of radiation were at nearly 20 times the risk.

The authors hope these findings will get clinicians to look quickly for the possibility of stomach cancer when their patients who have been treated for testicular cancer come to them with gastrointestinal problems, and when doctors consider the possibility of treating new patients with radiation therapy. (British Journal of Cancer, Jan. 6, 2015)

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