Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Testicular microlithiasis: Is it associated with testicular cancer?

Is testicular microlithiasis associated with testicular cancer?

Updated: 01-26-2011

Answer

Testicular microlithiasis (tes-TIK-u-lur mi-kro-lih-THI-uh-sis) refers to small clusters of calcium seen on an ultrasound examination of the testicles. A growing number of studies have shown a relationship between testicular microlithiasis and testicular cancer. However, it remains uncertain whether having testicular microlithiasis is an independent risk factor for testicular cancer.

Testicular microlithiasis is uncommon and has many possible causes, such as infection and injury. Most studies of testicular microlithiasis have evaluated men who have had testicular ultrasounds done for some other reason, such as swelling, pain or infertility. In these studies, there appears to be a small association between microlithiasis and testicular cancer. But there's not enough evidence to be certain that the microlithiasis caused cancer.

Few studies of healthy men with no symptoms have been conducted. But results indicate that testicular microlithiasis is much more common than is testicular cancer. This has led researchers to believe that microlithiasis is unlikely to increase an otherwise healthy man's risk of testicular cancer.

If testicular microlithiasis is noted on an ultrasound done for some other reason, your doctor may recommend that you do regular testicular self-exams and make an appointment if you find any unusual lumps. If you have other risk factors for testicular cancer, your doctor may recommend close follow-up with annual testicular ultrasound scans.