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A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

If you are a man, it is possible to develop testicular cancer with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing testicular cancer. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for testicular cancer include the following:

Age

You are at greatest risk between the ages of 20-35 years. Out of 100,000 men in this age group, 8-14 men will get testicular cancer. There is also a small increase in risk during early childhood.

Medical Conditions

Having 1 or more undescended testicles is a major risk factor for testicular cancer. The American Cancer Society, in its detailed guide to testicular cancer, states that about 14% of cases of testicular cancer occur in men with a history of undescended testicles.

It should be noted that surgical correction of the undescended testicle does not prevent a future cancerous tumor, but it does make it easier to detect.

Other medical conditions that can increase your risk of testicular cancer include:

  • Atrophic testicle—a testicle that is smaller in size than normal
  • Cancer in the other testicle
  • Mumps orchitis—inflammation of the testes caused by the mumps virus
  • Klinefelter syndrome

Some data indicate that HIV infection may also increase the risk of testicular cancer.

Ethnic Background

Testicular cancer occurs 5 times more often in white men than in black men.

Socioeconomic Status

Being of a higher socioeconomic status also puts you at higher risk for testicular cancer.

Revision Information

  • Casciato DA. Manual of Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2004.

  • Cashen AF, Wildes TM. The Washington Manual of Hematology and Oncology Subspecialty Consult. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolter Kluwers Health; 2008.

  • Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center website. Available at: http://cpmcnet.columbia.edu. Accessed January 31, 2006.

  • Fauci AS, Braunwald E, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2000.