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What are the risk factors?

The causes of testicular cancer are unknown, but certain factors may increase your risk of developing it:

Personal history – If you have previously had cancer in one testicle, you are more likely to develop cancer in the other testicle. ITGCN is also a risk factor.

Undescended testicles – Before birth, testicles develop inside the abdomen. By birth, or within the first six months of life, the testicles should move down into the scrotum. If the testicles don’t descend by themselves, doctors perform an operation to bring them down. Although this reduces the risk of developing testicular cancer, people born with undescended testicles are still more likely to develop testicular cancer than those born with descended testicles.

Family history – Sometimes gene mutations are passed on in families. If your father or brother has had testicular cancer, you are slightly more at risk of cancer. But family history is only a factor in a small number (about 2%) of people who are diagnosed with testicular cancer. If you are concerned about your family history of testicular cancer, you can ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist called a urologist.

Infertility – Having difficulty conceiving a baby (infertility) can be associated with testicular cancer. Testicular cancer can cause changes in your testosterone levels as well as genetic damage to sperm cells. As a result, infertility is considered a risk factor for testicular cancer.

HIV and AIDS – There is some evidence that people with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) have an  increased risk of testicular cancer.

Some congenital defects – Some people are born with an abnormality of the penis called hypospadias. This causes the urethra to open on the underside of the penis, rather than at the end. People with this condition are at an increased risk of developing testicular cancer. Likewise, there may also be an increased risk for people born with a lump in the groin known as an inguinal hernia, even when it has been repaired.

This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed August 2020 by the following expert content reviewers: Prof Declan Murphy, Urologist and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Gregory Bock, Urology Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network, North Metropolitan Health Service, WA; A/Prof Nicholas Brook, Senior Consultant Urological Surgeon, Royal Adelaide Hospital and The University of Adelaide, SA; Clinical A/Prof Peter Grimison, Medical Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and The University of Sydney, NSW; Dr Tanya Holt, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Radiation Oncology Princess Alexandra Hospital Raymond Terrace (ROPART), QLD; Brodie Kitson, Consumer; Elizabeth Medhurst, Genitourinary and Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR) Nurse Consultant, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Rosemary Watson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria.