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The causes of testicular cancer are unknown, but research is going on all the time to try to find out more.
There are factors that can increase the chance of getting testicular cancer:
Usually, the testicles develop inside the abdomen of an unborn child and come down (descend) into the scrotum at birth or by the time the child is one year old. Sometimes the testicle doesn’t descend into the scrotum. In this case, surgery is carried out to bring the testicle down into the scrotum. Men who’ve had an undescended testicle as a child have a higher chance of getting testicular cancer.
Men with a brother or father who’ve had testicular cancer are slightly more at risk of getting it – although the risk is still small. Researchers have found one particular gene that may cause testicular cancer in some men. It’s possible that this gene is inherited. This may be why testicular cancer sometimes happens in brothers or sons of men who’ve had it. There may be other genes linked to testicular cancer, but these have not been found yet.
These are abnormal cells in the testicle that, if left, can develop into testicular cancer. CIS tends to be found when men have a biopsy of the testicle to investigate infertility (inability to have children). The testicle with the CIS is usually removed.
A small number of men who’ve previously been treated for testicular cancer will go on to develop a cancer in the other testicle.
Testicular cancer is more common in white men than African-Caribbean or Asian men. It’s also more common in wealthier social groups. The reason for this is unknown.
Men who are taller appear to have a higher risk of testicular cancer, but it’s not clear why.
Men infected with HIV have an increased risk of developing testicular cancer, particularly seminoma.
Sometimes an injury to a testicle or the groin may bring a testicular cancer to your doctor’s attention. But there’s no evidence to suggest that injury to a testicle increases your risk of getting cancer. Having a vasectomy doesn’t increase the risk of getting testicular cancer either.
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Content last reviewed: 1 August 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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