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Man takes pregnancy test – with surprising results

It started as a comic strip posted online and ended with an unsuspecting man being diagnosed with cancer.

A man who decided to take a pregnancy test his old girlfriend had left in his home got a major surprise when the results were positive. The man's female friend decided to chronicle the experience in a "rage comic" on the Reddit site. Within a few days, numerous people responded to the comic by warning that a positive pregnancy test for a man could be a sign of cancer. The original poster wrote that her friend would be going to see his doctor and then created a new comic when the diagnosis was confirmed.

It turns out the man had a small tumour in his right testicle and, because it was caught early, it could be treated immediately.

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The strange story is continuing to generate a large number of headlines from around the world and attention on social networking sites.

Several outlets, including the CBC, are reporting that the woman who posted the comic lives in Hamilton. She posted a message on Reddit that asked for privacy and reiterated the fact neither she nor her male friend wanted to speak publicly.

It's definitely a feel-good story, and many online commenters have wished the man the best as he begins the process of getting cancer treatment.

But the story also has others wondering whether they should be taking pregnancy tests to determine if they're at risk.

Pregnancy tests can indicate the possibility of a testicular tumour in men or certain types of ovarian cancer in women, according to Medline Plus, a website maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. That's because pregnancy tests detect the Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone, which is produced by the placenta during pregnancy and can also be given off by some tumours.

But just because the test helped this man get a positive cancer diagnosis doesn't mean it's a reliable tool everyone should use, according to the American Cancer Society.

The organization put the question to Ted Gansler, director of medical content, who wrote on the site's pressroom blog that "only a small minority of men" with testicular cancer have HCG levels high enough to be detected by a home pregnancy test. He added that "several non-cancerous conditions can cause false positive results."

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According to Gansler, "current evidence does not indicate that screening the general population of men with a urine test for HCG (or with urine or blood tests for any other tumour marker) can find testicular cancer early enough to reduce testicular cancer death rates."

One thing men can do is be on the lookout for lumps in the testicles and see your doctor if you find one. Testicle pain or swelling and heaviness or aching in the lower abdomen are also possible signs of testicular cancer, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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