Human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone that is most often associated with pregnancy in women. However, both males and nonpregnant females produce low levels of hCG throughout their lives as well. In healthy adult males, the normal level of hCG is quite low, and should range between being undetectable and 5 milli-international units per milliliter of blood. Abnormal increases in hCG in males can potentially indicate underlying pathology.
Human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone that is produced in males at very low levels. According to the American Cancer Society, male testes produce hCG that is detectable at low levels throughout a man's life. hCG becomes an important clinical measurement when physicians suspect that a man may be suffering from testicular cancer. When this is the case, a quantitative hCG measurement of the man's blood may be ordered.
According to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, hCG levels in a male should be below 5 mIU/ml. This is actually the same level that is normally seen in nonpregnant women. hCG may not even be detectable if it is being produced at normal rates.
Abnormal Levels of hCG
In men, increased hCG levels can be associated with testicular cancer. As reported by the American Cancer Society, depending on what type of cell the testicular cancer arises from, it may secrete high levels of hCG. For this reason, hCG testing in the blood is an essential component of testicular cancer diagnosis and is coupled with other diagnostic tests.
If abnormal hCG levels are used to diagnose a testicular tumor in a male, they can also be used for monitoring the cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, response to treatment can be tracked by decreasing hCG levels. Additionally, recurrence of the tumor can be identified early by a new increase in hCG levels.
Abnormal hCG levels do not necessarily diagnose testicular cancer on their own. There is variability in normal levels, and you should consult with your physician to decide what your lab results really mean. For men recovering from testicular cancer, periodic checks of serum hCG levels may be a component of preventative care that you can discuss with your physician as well.