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Testicular cancer

Risk factors for testicular cancer

Although the exact causes of testicular cancer are unknown, certain factors that may increase an individual's testicular cancer risks have been identified. Some of these risk factors include:

General

Age: Approximately 80 percent of testicular cancers occur in adult men under the age of 44, and more than half occur in men between 20 and 34 years old.

Race and ethnicity: Caucasian men have a five times greater risk of developing testicular cancer than black men, and a three times greater risk compared with Asian-American or American Indian men. Hispanic/Latino men have a lower risk than Caucasian men but a higher risk than Asian-American men. Testicular cancer also occurs more frequently in the United States and Europe, and less often in Asia or Africa.

Genetics

Family history: Approximately 3 percent of cases of testicular cancer occur in families. Having a brother or father who has had testicular cancer may slightly increase your risk of developing the disease.

Other conditions

Cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle): Testicles develop in the abdomen of the fetus and move down into the scrotum before birth. Approximately 3 percent of males may be born with a testicle that has failed to properly descend. A procedure called orchiopexy may be performed to relocate a testicle that has failed to descend normally. Testicular cancer is several times more likely to occur in males with cryptochordism, and it is more likely to develop in the undescended testicles. Testicular cancer develops in the normally descended testicle in approximately 25 percent of cases.

HIV infection: Some research suggests that infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may increase testicular cancer risks, especially in individuals who have developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Carcinoma in situ: This is a non-invasive form of testicular cancer that may sometimes, but not always, progress to invasive cancer. It generally does not form a mass that can be felt or produce any symptoms. It is most frequently found incidentally in males who have undergone a biopsy of the testicle to evaluate another condition, such as infertility. Experts are divided on whether carcinoma in situ should be treated at the time of diagnosis or watched to see if it progresses.

Previous history of testicular cancer: Approximately 3 to 4 percent of men who have had cancer in one testicle will later develop cancer in the other testicle.

Next topic: What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?