The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend routine screening for testicular cancer (TC) in asymptomatic men, essentially because serological testicular cancer (TC) biomarkers are not reliable. The main reason is that two of the most important TC biomarkers, α-fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), are not produced solely due to TC. Moreover, up to 40% of patients with TC do not have elevated serological biomarkers, which is why serial imaging with CT is the chief means of monitoring progress. On the other hand, exposure to radiation can lead to an increased risk of secondary malignancies. This review provides the first comprehensive account of the applicability of protein glycoprofiling as a promising biomarker for TC with applications in disease diagnostics, monitoring and recurrence evaluation. The review first deals with the description and classification of TC. Secondly, the limitations of current TC biomarkers such as hCG, AFP and lactate dehydrogenase are provided together with an extensive overview of the glycosylation of hCG and AFP related to TC. The final part of the review summarises the potential of glycan changes on either hCG and AFP as TC biomarkers for diagnostics and prognostics purposes, and for disease recurrence evaluation. Finally, an analysis of glycans in serum and tissues as TC biomarkers is also provided.
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