A new way of diagnosing testicular cancer has been formulated, according to scientists in the UK.
They claim to have devised the method, which looks at how testes develop in males before they are born, by grafting human testicular tissue onto mice and studying how cancer-causing cells develop.
Researchers hailed the findings of the study, which were published in the Human Reproduction journal, as a breakthrough.
The most prevalent cancer for men between the ages of 15 and 44 is testicular germ cell cancer. Around 2,000 new cases are diagnosed in all age groups every year in the UK.
Study leader, Richard Sharpe at the MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh said: "This vital work will take research into testicular cancer to a new level. We now have a viable system that enables us to test what factors might interfere with development.
"It will help us to investigate, for example, whether common environmental chemicals that foetuses are exposed to in the womb play a role in the development of testicular cancer: an aspect that simply could not have been studied before."
The concept of growth in the womb influencing the development of disease later in life is now supported by "overwhelming" evidence, he added.