Testicular Cancer: Risk Factors

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2020

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing testicular cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

The following factors can raise a person’s risk of developing testicular cancer. However, it is important to note that the cause of testicular cancer is not known.

  • Age. More than half of the people who are diagnosed with testicular cancer are between age 20 and 45. However, people of any age can develop this disease, including those in their teens and in their 60s, so it is important that anyone with symptoms of testicular cancer visit the doctor.

  • Cryptorchidism. Cryptorchidism is an undescended testicle, meaning that 1 or both testicles do not move down into the scrotum before birth. This condition increases the risk of developing testicular cancer. This risk may be lowered if surgery is used to fix the condition before puberty. Some doctors recommend surgery for cryptorchidism between ages 6 months and 15 months to reduce the risk of infertility. Infertility is the inability to produce children. Because cryptorchidism is often fixed at a young age, many people may not know if they had the condition.

  • Family history. A person who has a close relative, particularly a sibling, who has had testicular cancer has an increased risk of developing testicular cancer.

  • Personal history. People who have had cancer in 1 testicle have an increased risk of developing cancer in the other testicle. It is estimated that out of every 100 people with testicular cancer, 2 will develop cancer in the other testicle.

  • Race. Although people of any race can develop testicular cancer, white people are more likely than those of other races to be diagnosed with testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is rare in Black people. However, Black people with testicular cancer are more likely to die of the cancer than white people, particularly if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body when it is diagnosed.

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). People with HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused by HIV have a slightly higher risk of developing seminoma.

The next section in this guide is Screening. It explains how tests may find cancer before signs or symptoms appear. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.