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What Causes Testicular Cancer?

A History of Undescended Testes

How the testicles descend into the scrotum during pregnancy
How the testicles descend into the scrotum during pregnancy
Image © 2003 Fairman Studios, LLC.

The only risk factor linked to testicular tumors is a history of undescended testicles (cryptorchidism). This means that a testicle did not drop from the abdomen (where it forms in fetal development) down into the scrotum by birth. Testicular cancer may develop in about 8 out of every 100 patients who have had an undescended testicle fixed with surgery. The cancer can grow in the undescended testicle or in the opposite testicle. In fact, in adults there is a 2 to 3% incidence of a bilateral tumor (on the opposite side) occurring at the same time or right after the first tumor. Testicular self-exams are important in these men since a tumor can grow in either testicle.

Other Risk Factors

Men whose father or brother had testicular cancer are also at greater risk. They should also do a self-exam each month. Younger men above all, those who are 15 to 34 years old are at risk for testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is also more common in white men than in black men.