Testicular Cancer Risk Factors

Although the exact cause of testicular cancer is no known for certain, there are several risk factors that can increase the risk of getting testicular cancer.
  • Cryptorchidism. Cryptorchidism occurs when the testicles do not descend from the abdomen to the scrotum before birth. Cryptorchidism increases the risk of developing testicular cancer by a factor of 10-20, even if the condition is corrected by surgery.

  • Diethyl-Stilbesterol (DES) exposure in utero. From 1938 to 1971, DES was given to pregnant women to help prevent miscarriage. It was banned for such use by the FDA in 1972, when it was found to cause rare cervical and uterine cancers in female offspring and was also implicated in breast cancer in the mother.

  • Personal History of Testicular Cancer. Testicular cancer does not spread from one testicle to the other, as there is no direct connection between the testicles, so it is rare for testicular cancer to affect both testicles simultaneously. Nevertheless, men who have had testicular cancer in one testicle are more likely to develop it in the other testicle later.

  • Age. Testicular cancer is most common among men between the ages of 15 and 44, but it can occur at any age.

  • Family History. If your father or brother has had testicular cancer, you are at greater risk of developing testicular cancer. Approximately 10% of testicular cancers appear to be genetically linked. It is believed that the genes do not cause testicular cancer, but rather make the man more susceptible to it.

  • Race. White men are much more likely to develop testicular cancer, with testicular cancer occuring in white men about 4-5 times more frequently than in black men and about 2 times more frequently than in asian-american men. Incidence rates for white men have doubled in the last 30 years, but remained about the same for black men.

  • Occupation. Certain occupations (miners, oil or gas workers, janitors, leather workers, food and beverage workers, or workers involved in the manufacturing or application of pesticides) increase the risk of testicular cancer.

  • Klinefelter's Syndrome. Men with Klinefelter's Syndrome have an extra X chromosome, leading to lower levels of male hormones. This can cause sterility, abnormal testicular development, and breast enlargement. It also increases the risk of developing germ cell tumors originating in the chest.

  • HIV infection. Men with HIV have a slightly higher risk of developing testicular cancer.

Studies have shown that a vasectomy and the use of electric blankets does not increase the risk of testicular cancer.

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