Screening of subfertile men for testicular carcinoma in situ by an automated image analysis-based cytological test of the ejaculate
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Testicular cancer (TC) is usually diagnosed after manifestation of an overt tumour. Tumour formation is preceded by a pre-invasive and asymptomatic stage, carcinoma in situ (CIS) testis, except for very rare subtypes. The CIS cells are located within seminiferous tubules but can be exfoliated and detected in ejaculates with specific CIS markers. We have built a high throughput framework involving automated immunocytochemical staining, scanning microscopy and in silico image analysis allowing automated detection and grading of CIS-like stained objects in semen samples. In this study, 1175 ejaculates from 765 subfertile men were tested using this framework. In 5/765 (0.65%) cases, CIS-like cells were identified in the ejaculate. Three of these had bilateral testicular biopsies performed and CIS was histologically confirmed in two. In total, 63 bilateral testicular biopsy were performed in conjunction with analysis of the ejaculates because of infertility work-up. Histological analysis of the biopsies for the presence of CIS yielded a test sensitivity of 0.67 and a specificity of 0.98. In addition, ejaculates from 45 patients with clinical signs of an overt TC were investigated and yielded a slightly lower sensitivity (0.51), possibly because of obstruction. We conclude that this novel non-invasive test combining automated immunocytochemistry and advanced image analysis allows identification of TC at the CIS stage with a high specificity, but a negative test does not completely exclude CIS. On the basis of the results, we propose that the assay could be offered to subfertile men and other patients who are at increased risk of TC.
|Journal||International Journal of Andrology|
|Issue number||4 Pt 2|
|Pages (from-to)||e21-30; discussion e30-1|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Aug 2011|