Do I Have Testicular Cancer?

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Some facts about testicular cancer

Testicular cancer can develop in males of any age, including infants and elderly men. Almost half of all cases of testicular cancer are in men between the ages of 20 and 34.

Testicular cancer is not common; a man’s lifetime chance of getting it is about 1 in 263. The risk of dying from this cancer is about 1 in 5,000.

Testicular cancer can be treated and usually cured, especially when it’s found early. If you have any possible signs or symptoms of testicular cancer, see a doctor right away. You might not have testicular cancer, but if you do, the sooner you start treatment, the more likely it is to work. For more information, see our document Testicular Cancer.

What increases your risk for testicular cancer?

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed. Others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed. But having a risk factor, or even many, does not mean that you will get the disease.

Scientists have found few risk factors that are linked to a higher risk of testicular cancer. Because this cancer is not common, a small increase in risk still makes the chance of ever getting it low. Even if a man has one or more risk factors for this disease, there’s no way to know for sure how much they contributed to developing the cancer. Most boys and men with testicular cancer do not have any known risk factors.

Factors that increase the risk of getting testicular cancer include:

  • Having had an undescended testicle (also called cryptorchidism): Most cancers start in the testicle that did not move down on its own, but about 1 out of 4 occurs in the normal testicle.
  • A family history (having a close relative with testicular cancer)
  • HIV infection
  • CIS (carcinoma in situ) of the testicle (also called intratubular germ cell neoplasia): In CIS, cells that look like cancer cells are seen in the seminiferous tubules (where sperm cells are formed), but they haven’t spread beyond the tubule to other parts of the testicle. Experts believe that some cases of CIS go on to become invasive cancer.
  • Cancer in the other testicle
  • Age: About half of testicular cancers occur in men between the ages of 20 and 34.
  • Race/ethnicity: In the US, white men are more likely to get testicular cancer than other groups.
  • Body size: Tall men may have a higher risk of testicular cancer

For more information about these risk factors see our document, Testicular Cancer.

Unproven or controversial risk factors

Injury to the testicles and repetitive actions such as horseback riding don’t seem to be related to developing testicular cancer.

Most studies have not found that strenuous physical activity increases testicular cancer risk. Being physically active has been linked with a lower risk of several other forms of cancer as well as a lower risk of many other health problems.

Last Medical Review: 01/20/2015
Last Revised: 01/29/2015