Testicular Cancer: Risk Factors

The rate of testicular cancer in the United States has risen 51 percent since World War II.

According to the American Cancer Society, a man’s lifetime chance of developing testicular cancer is about 1 in 270 and only 8,800 new cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed each year in the US. Because testicular cancer usually can be treated successfully, a man’s lifetime risk of dying from this cancer is extremely low: about 1 in 5,000.

Average age at the time of diagnosis of testicular cancer is 33. While the condition generally affects young and middle-aged men, about 6 percent of cases occur in children and teens, and about 7 percent occur in men over the age of 55.

While the exact causes of testicular cancer are still unknown, the risk of developing this condition may increase if men have experienced any of the following:

  • An undescended testicle. The testicles develop inside the abdomen and normally descend into the scrotum before birth. In about three percent of boys the testicles do not descend but remain in the abdomen or in the groin area. About 14 percent of testicular cancers occur in men with this condition.
  • Abnormal development of the testicles
  • A previous cancer in one testicle is known to increase a man’s risk of developing cancer in the other testicle, but the risk is still less than 1%.
  • A family history of testicular cancer (However, most men who develop testicular cancer do not have close relatives with the same type of cancer.)
  • HIV infection: Men with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) seem to have an increased risk of testicular cancer. This risk may be even greater for men diagnosed with AIDS.
  • A diagnosis of testicular CIS (carcinoma in situ)
  • Occupational hazards. 
Miners, gas workers, leather workers, food and beverage processing workers, utility workers, and others are at increased risk.

Other risk factors include

  • Race White American men are five times more likely to get testicular cancer than African-American men.
  • Body size Some studies indicate that the risk of testicular cancer is somewhat higher in tall men, but others have not confirmed that link.
  • A sedentary lifestyle and having been born to an older mother may turn out to be relative risk factors for testicular cancer.