Causes & Risk Factors

Macmillan Cancer Support

The exact cause of testicular cancer is not known. Certain things called risk factors may increase the chance of developing it.

Undescended testicles (cryptorchidism)

If you had an undescended testicle as a child you have a higher chance of getting testicular cancer. The risk may be higher if you did not have surgery, which is usually done before the age of 2.

The testicles develop inside the tummy (abdomen) of an unborn baby. Usually, they drop down (descend) into the scrotum at birth, or within the first year. Sometimes this doesn’t happen so the child has surgery to bring the testicle into the scrotum.

Having surgery to bring down the testicle means you can regularly check your testicles and notice any changes early.

Family history

You have a slightly higher risk of testicular cancer if you have a brother or father who has had testicular cancer. Researchers have found that this is partly due to changes in certain genes. Research continues to look at what genes may increase the risk.

Ethnicity

Testicular cancer is more common in white men than in African‑Caribbean or Asian men.

Height

You may have a higher risk of testicular cancer if you are taller than average. Doctors are not sure why this is.

HIV

If you are HIV positive you have an increased risk of developing testicular cancer. There is an especially increased risk of a type of testicular cancer called seminoma.

Factors that do not increase testicular cancer risk

There is no evidence to suggest that injury to a testicle increases your risk of getting cancer. But an injury to a testicle or to the groin may bring a testicular cancer to your doctor’s attention.

Having a vasectomy does not increase the risk of getting testicular cancer.

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