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Infertile men may be at a significantly increased risk of developing a highly aggressive and often fatal form of prostate cancer and should be screened for the disease at an earlier age, new research suggests.
Thomas Walsh, of the University of Washington School of Medicine, and his colleagues examined the medical data of 22,562 patients evaluated for infertility from 1967 to 1998 and compared the group's incidence of prostate cancer to that of the general population.
While the overall incidence of prostate cancer between the two groups was found to be similar, the researchers discovered that infertile men were 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with a higher Gleason score, which indicates an aggressive, life-threatening tumor.
"There could be underlying genetic abnormalities on the male chromosome," explained Walsh. "Also, these men may have a deficit in their ability to repair DNA; there is some evidence that this may be the underlying cause."
Although the researchers have yet to directly pinpoint the reason behind the elevated risk of prostate cancer in infertile men, they believe the findings suggest that sterile men should be screened more aggressively for the disease by their healthcare provider.
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