Risks for testicular cancer

Last medical review:

Certain behaviours, substances or conditions can affect your risk, or chance, of developing cancer. Some things increase your risk and some things decrease it. Most cancers are the result of many risks. But sometimes cancer develops in people who don't have any risks.

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men who are 15 to 35 years of age. Most testicular cancers are diagnosed in men between the ages of 20 and 35.

Testicular cancer is more common in white men than in Black men (including men of African or Caribbean ancestry) or men of Asian ancestry.

Germ cell neoplasia in situ (GCNIS) is a precancerous condition that can develop in the testicle. GCNIS is not cancer, but it can sometimes become testicular cancer if it is not treated. Some of the things that increase the risk for testicular cancer may also cause GCNIS. Find out more about this precancerous condition of the testicle.

The following can increase or decrease your risk for testicular cancer.

Undescended testicle

Family history of testicular cancer

Personal history of testicular cancer

Undescended testicle

If you had an undescended testicle as a child, you have a higher risk for testicular cancer. While a baby is developing in the uterus, the testicles form in their abdomen. Normally the testicles move down, or descend, into the scrotum before birth. But sometimes one or both testicles don't descend. This is called cryptorchidism. Experts don't know exactly why a testicle might not descend. Sometimes the testicle will move down on its own, usually during the first year of the child's life. If this doesn't happen, a surgeon will operate to move the testicle into the scrotum (called an orchiopexy).

An orchiopexy done before puberty may decrease your risk of testicular cancer, but we need more research to be sure.

Family history of testicular cancer

If your parent or sibling had testicular cancer, you have a higher risk of developing it. Researchers are trying to find which genes may play a role in a family history of testicular cancer.

Personal history of testicular cancer

If you had cancer in one testicle, you have a higher risk of developing cancer in the other testicle.

Possible risks

The following have been linked with testicular cancer, but there is not enough evidence to know for sure that they are risks. More research is needed.

  • tall adult height
  • calcium deposits in the testicles (called testicular microlithiasis)
  • working as a firefighter
  • infection with HIV
  • fertility problems
  • smoking cannabis
  • coming into contact with pesticides such as DDT, N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF) or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
  • being exposed before you were born to a form of estrogen called diethylstilboestrol (DES)
  • later puberty

No link to testicular cancer

Significant evidence shows no link between testicular cancer and a vasectomy, injury to the testicles or diet.

Understanding your cancer risk

To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your doctor questions about risks. Learn how cancer can be prevented and what you can do to reduce your risk.

Expert review and references

  • Canadian Cancer Society | Société canadienne du cancer
  • American Cancer Society . Risk Factors for Testicular Cancer . 2018 : https://www.cancer.org/.
  • Barbaro, G and G. Barbarini . HIV infection and cancer in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy. Oncology Reports. Spandidos Publications; 2007.
  • Barbonetti A, Martorella A, Minaldi E, et al. Testicular cancer in infertile men with and without testicular microthialisis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of case-control studies. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 2019: 10:164. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2019.00164/full.
  • Beranger R, Le Cornet C, Schuz J, Fervers B . Occupational and environmental exposures associated with testicular germ cell tumours: systematic review of prenatal and life-long exposures. PLoS One. 2013.
  • Campbell MT, Karam JA, Logothetis CJ. Cancer of the testis. DeVita VT Jr., Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer; 2019: Kindle version, ch 72 , https://read.amazon.ca/?asin=B0777JYQQC&language=en-CA.
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Cancer.net: Testicular Cancer: Risk Factors. 2020: https://www.cancer.net/.
  • Frost, G. et al . Mortality and cancer incidence among British agricultural pesticide users. Occupational Medicine. Oxford University Press; 2011.
  • Giannandrea, F. et al . Pesticide exposure and serum organochlorine residuals among testicular cancer patients and healthy controls. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part B: Pesticides, Food Contaminants and Agricultural Wastes. Taylor Francis; 2011.
  • Goedert, J. J. et al . Risk of germ cell tumors among men with HIV/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. American Association for Cancer Research; 2007.
  • Greene MH, et al . Familial testicular germ cell tumors in adults: 2010 summary of genetic risk factors and clinical phenotype. Endocrine-Related Cancer. 2010.
  • Grosse Y, Loomis D, Guyton KZ, El Ghissassi F, Bouvard V, Benbrahim-Talla L, Mattock H, Straif K . Carcinogenicity of some industrial chemicals. Lancet Oncology. 2016.
  • Gurney J, Shaw C, Stanley J, Signal V, Sarfati D . Cannabis exposure and risk of testicular cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cancer. 2015.
  • Hanson HA, Anderson RE, Aston KI, Carrell DT, Smith KR, Hotaling JM . Subfertility increases risk of testicular cancer: evidence from population-based semen samples. Fertility and Sterility. 2015.
  • Heller HT, Oliff MC, Doubilet PM, O'Leary MP, Benson CB . Testicular microlithiasis: prevalence and association with primary testicular neoplasm. Journal of Clinical Ultrasound. 2014.
  • Holl K, Lundin E, Surcel HM, et al . Endogenous steroid hormone levels in early pregnancy and risk of testicular cancer in the offspring: a nested case-referent study. International Journal of Cancer. 2009.
  • Ide CW . Cancer incidence and mortality in serving whole-time Scottish firefighters 1984–2005. Occupational Medicine. 2014: http://occmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/64/6/421.full.pdf+html.
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Volume 100A: Pharmaceuticals - A Review of Human Carcinogens. 2012: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol100A/mono100A.pdf.
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Volume 96: Alcohol Consumption and Ethyl Carbamate. 2010: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol96/mono96.pdf.
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Volume 113: 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and Some Organochlorine Insecticides. 2016: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol113/index.php.
  • Lacson, JCA et al . Population-based case-control study of recreational drug use and testis cancer risk confirms an association between marijuana use and nonseminoma risk. Cancer. 2012.
  • Le Cornet C, Fervers B, Dalton SO, et al . Testicular germ cell tumours and parental occupational exposure to pesticides: a register-based case-control study in the Nordic countries (NORD-TEST study). Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2015.
  • Loebenstein M, Thorup J, Cortes D, Clasen-Linde E, Hutson JM, Li R. Cryptochidism, gonocyte development, and the risk of germ cell malignancy and infertility: A systematic review. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2020: 55(7):1201–1210.
  • Macmillan Cancer Support. Causes and Risk Factors of Testicular Cancer. 2018: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/.
  • McGlynn KA, Trabert, B . Adolescent and adult risk factors for testicular cancer. Nature Reviews Urology. 2012.
  • McGlynn KA, Rajpert-DeMeyts E, Stang A. Testicular cancer. Thun MJ, Linet MS, Cerhan JR, Haiman CA Schottenfeld D, eds.. Schottenfeld and Fraumeni Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 4th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2018: Kindle version, 54 https://read.amazon.ca/?asin=B0777JYQQC&language=en-CA.
  • Moller H, Knudsen LB, Lynge E . Risk of testicular cancer after vasectomy: cohort study of over 73,000 men. British Medical Journal (BMJ). BMJ Publishing Group Ltd; 2005.
  • PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board . Testicular Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) – Health Professional Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2021: https://www.cancer.gov/.
  • PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board. Testicular Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) – Patient Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2019: https://www.cancer.gov/.
  • Purude MP, et al . Prediagnostic serum concentrations of organochlorine compournds and risk of testicular germ cell tumors. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2009.
  • Ramlau-Hansen CH, Olesen AV, Parner ET, Sorensen HT, Olsen J . Perinatal markers of estrogen exposure and risk of testicular cancer: follow-up of 1,333,873 Danish males born between 1950 and 2002. Cancer Causes and Control. 2009.
  • Richiardi L, Tamimi R, & Adami H. . Testicular cancer. Adami, H.-O., Hunter, D., & Trichopoulos, D. Textbook of Cancer Epidemiology. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2008: 21: 555-572.
  • Sarma AV, McLaughlin JC, Schottenfeld D . Testicular cancer. Schottenfeld D, Fraumeni J, Jr. (eds.). Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2006: 60:1151 - 1165.
  • Trabert B, Sigurdson AJ, Sweeney AM et al . Marijuana use and testicular germ cell tumors. Cancer. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, Inc; 2011.
  • Wang T, Liu L, Luo J, Liu T, Wei A . A meta-analysis of the relationship between testicular microlithiasis and incidence of testicular cancer. Urology Journal. 2015.
  • Yousif L, Hammer GP Blettner M, Zeeb H . Testicular cancer and viral infections: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Journal of Medical Virology. 2013.