Risks for testicular cancer

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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

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