When a man found a pregnancy test in his bathroom cupboard, left there by his former girlfriend, he thought up a terrific jape. He’d take the test himself. But when he had done it, he received quite a shock. That’s because the stick was displaying two solid lines, indicating that he was pregnant.
Indeed, when urine passes over the pregnancy test, it detects whether a certain hormone is present. That substance is beta human chorionic gonadotropin (beta HCG), and it’s most commonly produced by a woman’s placenta as it develops in the womb. It’s rare for there to be any other source of beta HCG, but as it turns out, something else can produce it.
The man was so stunned by his astonishing test result that he drew a comic out of it and posted it onto social media site Reddit. The funny story drew more than a thousand comments within three days. What’s more, some of the respondents were able to provide him with an answer to the mystery of how he had “passed” the pregnancy test.
Boston oncologist Dr. Mark Pomerantz explained to TV station ABC News in 2012 just what might have caused the false positive. The expert from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute said, “It turns out a fair number of testicular cancers make the exact same hormone. There are very few things in the body that produce beta hCG, and testicular cancer is one of them.”
And one of the Reddit commenters had exactly that thought, saying, “You may have testicular cancer! Get to an oncologist, tell them you took a pregnancy test and it came out positive.” When the man went to see a physician, the hypothesis was confirmed: a small lump on one of his testicles was indeed a tumor. The good news for the man was that he had inadvertently caught the cancer early, and it could likely be treated successfully. The bad news? Normally, treatment involves losing the testicle.