HCG and cancer are linked, although not as the anti-HCG propagandists would have you think. HCG is what physicians call an indicator, not a cause, of cancer. The surprise is that it is clinically useful in males. Here are the details that you should know.
HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) consists of two protein subunits, an alpha subunit and a beta subunit. The beta subunit is secreted by certain kinds of cancers. These include the following (links and descriptions below from Wikipedia):
Seminoma (also known as pure seminoma or classical seminoma) is a germ cell tumor (cancer) of the testis. It is one of the most treatable and curable cancers, with survival >95% in the early stages. Treatment usually requires removal of one testis, but this does not affect fertility or other sexual functioning.
Choriocarcinoma is a malignant, trophoblastic and aggressive cancer, usually of the placenta. It is characterized by early hematogenous spread to the lungs. It belongs to the far end of the spectrum of gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD), a subset of germ cell tumors.
Hydatiform mole (molar pregnancy) is an abnormal form of pregnancy, wherein a non-viable, fertilized egg implants in the uterus, and thereby converts normal pregnancy processes into pathological ones.
Teratoma, whereby an encapsulated tumor has tissue or organ components resembling normal derivatives of all three germ layers.
And from TC-cancer.com:
HCG’s most important uses as a tumor marker are in gestational trophoblastic disease and germ cell tumors. All gestational trophoblastic tumors produce HCG, and it is a valuable marker in these tumors, screening reliably in all cases and indicating poor responses to treatment. The level correlates with tumor mass and thus has prognostic value. HCG is extremely sensitive, being elevated in women with minute amounts of tumor. The patient is followed weekly during treatment, and at the completion of treatment indefinite follow up is advised to detect recurrence. HCG is essential in managing trophoblastic neoplasms.
And The Winner Is…
If you want to call this is a winner, then the most common clinical use of HCG as a tumor marker is for diagnosing testicular cancer.
The cause of the HCG in this case is the tumor itself, not the other way around.
What It Means
Simply put, if a tumor is already present, then it will produce HCG.
More importantly, this should clear up any notion that HCG causes cancer. It does not.
HCG and cancer updated,
- Testicular cancer – All Information (umm.edu)
- Hydatidiform mole – All Information (umm.edu)
- Extragonadal Germ Cell Tumor Treatment Options (brighthub.com)