Testicular Cancer Overview

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Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

What are the risk factors for testicular cancer?

We don’t know exactly what causes most cases of testicular cancer, but we do know some of the risk factors linked to testicular cancer.

A risk factor is something that affects a person’s chance of getting a disease. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, such as smoking, can be changed; others, like a person’s age or race, can’t. But risk factors don’t tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that a person will get the disease. And not having any risk factors doesn’t mean a person won’t get the disease.

Even if someone has one or more risk factors for this disease, there’s no way to know for sure what part those factors played in causing the cancer. Also, 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.
  • Family history (having a close relative with testicular cancer)
  • HIV infection
  • CIS (carcinoma in situ) (described in “What is testicular 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
  • about symptoms, are covered in our detailed guide Testicular Cancer.

Last Medical Review: 01/20/2015
Last Revised: 02/23/2015