Preorchiectomy Leydig Cell Dysfunction in Patients With Testicular Cancer

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Leydig cell function was evaluated preorchiectomy in 561 patients with testicular cancer and compared with a cohort of age-matched healthy men. Leydig cell dysfunction was found in 25% of patients and was associated with increasing tumor size. Total testosterone as well as calculated free testosterone was lower in patients than in healthy controls.


Little is known about preorchiectomy Leydig cell function in patients with testicular germ cell cancer (TGCC). The aim was to estimate the prevalence of preorchiectomy Leydig cell dysfunction and evaluate factors associated with this condition in a cohort of patients with TGCC.

Patients and Methods:

We evaluated luteinizing hormone (LH), total testosterone (TT), calculated free T (cFT), estradiol, and sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) preorchiectomy in 561 patients with TGCC and compared with 561 healthy controls. We calculated TT/LH and cFT/LH ratios and constructed bivariate charts of TT/LH and cFT/LH from the controls. Logistic regression analysis with an abnormal cFT/LH ratio as outcome and clinical stage, tumor size, age, histology, presence of contralateral germ cell neoplasia in situ (GCNIS), and bilateral tumors as covariates was performed.


In patients who were negative for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (n = 374), TT (P = .004), cFT (P < .001), TT/LH ratio (P = .003), and cFT/LH ratio (P = .002) were lower than in controls. A total of 95 (25%) and 91 (24%) of hCG-negative patients had abnormal values when using combined evaluation of TT/LH and cFT/LH, respectively. Increasing tumor size, contralateral GCNIS, and increasing age were associated with Leydig cell dysfunction. In patients positive for hCG (n = 187), all reproductive hormones except SHBG were different from controls (P < .001).


Patients with TGCC are at increased risk of Leydig cell dysfunction before orchiectomy. Contralateral GCNIS, increasing age, and increasing tumor size are associated with Leydig cell dysfunction. We hypothesize that patients with preexisting Leydig cell dysfunction are at increased risk of testosterone deficiency following treatment.

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