What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Testicular Cancer, and Are There Ways to Lower My Risk?

What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Testicular Cancer, and Are There Ways to Lower My Risk?

April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, aimed at spreading awareness about the disease and encouraging men to prioritize their health through regular screenings and education. Testicular cancer is a less common form of cancer, but understanding its risk factors and taking preventative measures can help with early detection and successful treatment. The following are the various risk factors associated with testicular cancer as well as ways to lower one’s risk.

Risk Factors:

  1. Age: Testicular cancer commonly affects young and middle-aged men, with the highest incidence occurring between the ages of 15 and 35. However, it can occur at any age.
  2. Cryptorchidism: Cryptorchidism, or undescended testicle(s), is a condition in which one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum before birth. Men with a history of cryptorchidism have an increased risk of developing testicular cancer, especially if the condition was not corrected in childhood.
  3. Family History: Individuals with a family history of testicular cancer are at higher risk themselves. Having a father or brother who has had testicular cancer increases the likelihood of developing the disease.
  4. Personal History: Men who have previously had testicular cancer are at a higher risk of developing cancer in the other testicle.
  5. Race and Ethnicity: Testicular cancer is more common in white men compared to men of other racial or ethnic backgrounds.
  6. Genetic Factors: Certain genetic conditions, such as Klinefelter syndrome, when males are born with an extra copy of the X chromosome, may increase the risk of testicular cancer. Additionally, individuals with a history of other types of cancer, such as melanoma, may have a slightly higher risk.
  7. Environmental Factors: Exposure to certain environmental factors, such as chemicals in the workplace or chemotherapy drugs used to treat other cancers, may increase the risk of developing testicular cancer.
  8. HIV Infection: Men with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have an elevated risk of developing testicular cancer.

Ways to Lower One’s Risk and/or Detect Cancer Early:

While some risk factors for testicular cancer, such as age and family history, cannot be modified, there are steps men can take to potentially lower their risk:

  1. Perform Regular Self-Examinations: Men should perform monthly testicular self-examinations to check for any lumps, swelling, or changes in the size or shape of the testicles. Early detection through self-exams can lead to better outcomes.
  2. Seek Prompt Medical Attention: If any abnormalities are detected during self-examination or if there are concerns about testicular health, it is important to seek prompt medical attention. A healthcare provider can perform a physical examination and recommend further testing if necessary.
  3. Address Cryptorchidism: If cryptorchidism is diagnosed, it is typically corrected through surgery to bring the undescended testicle(s) into the scrotum. This may lower the risk of developing testicular cancer later in life.
  4. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption may help reduce the risk of cancer overall, including testicular cancer.
  5. Protect the Testicles from Injury: Engaging in activities that protect the testicles from injury, such as wearing protective gear during sports and avoiding activities that may cause trauma to the groin area, may help lower the risk of testicular cancer.
  6. Stay Informed: Education and awareness are key components of cancer prevention. Men should stay informed about testicular cancer risk factors, symptoms, and screening guidelines.

By understanding the risk factors associated with testicular cancer and taking proactive steps to reduce this risk, men can empower themselves to prioritize their health and well-being. Regular self-examinations, seeking prompt medical attention when needed, and adopting a healthy lifestyle are essential components of testicular cancer prevention.

For more information on this topic, please read these publications from The Journal of Sexual Medicine:

Sexual Dysfunction and Reproductive Concerns in Young Men Diagnosed With Testicular Cancer: An Observational Study

Sexual Function in Men Treated for Testicular Cancer


American Cancer Society. (2021). Key Statistics for Testicular Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicular-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

Mayo Clinic. (2022). Testicular Cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/testicular-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352986

National Cancer Institute. (2021). Testicular Cancer Treatment (PDQ) - Health Professional Version. https://www.cancer.gov/types/testicular/hp/testicular-treatment-pdq

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