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Risk factors for testicular cancer

Age and undescended testicles are risk factors for testicular cancerThe cause of testicular cancer is not known, but the following risk factors can increase a man’s chance of developing testicular cancer.

  • Age—Most testicular cancer cases occur in teens and younger men between the ages of 15 and 34. But, it can occur at any age, including children and senior males.
  • Undescended testicle (cryptorchidism)—Men who have undescended testicle(s) are more likely to get testicular cancer, often in the undescended testicle. This condition occurs when one or both of the testicles fail to move from the abdomen into the scrotum before birth. The risk may be reduced if surgery is performed to correct the condition before puberty.
  • Family history—If a man has the disease, there is an increased risk that one or more of his brothers or sons will also develop it. However, the risk is not as great as other cancer types, and only occurs in a small number of families.
  • HIV infection—There is evidence that shows men infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), particularly those with AIDS, are at increased risk.
  • Carcinoma in situ—This is a condition that does not cause a lump in the testicles or other symptoms. It isn’t clear how often this progresses into cancer, but is often discovered in men who have a testicular biopsy to evaluate infertility.
  • Personal history—A person who has had cancer in one testicle is at increased risk. About 3 to 4 percent of men who have been cured of cancer in one testicle will develop it in the second.
  • Race and ethnicity—The risk of testicular cancer among white men is about four to five times that of black men and more than three times that of Asian-Americans. The risk is highest for men living in the U.S. and Europe and lowest for men living in Africa or Asia. The reasons for this are unknown.

Check yourself

If you are at higher risk, perform a monthly testicular self-exam at home to help find testicular cancer early. Continue to see your doctor for routine physical exams and report anything unusual. Find a doctor >>

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