Causes and risk factors of testicular cancer
Doctors do not yet know what causes testicular cancer. But we know some of the risk factors that may increase the chances of developing it.
The testicles develop inside the tummy (abdomen) of an unborn baby. Usually, they drop down (descend) into the scrotum at birth, or within the first year.
In some boys, this does not happen. This is called having undescended testicles (cryptorchidism). It can be just the one, or both the testicles that do not drop down. In this situation, surgery can be done to bring either the one or both testicles down into the scrotum. This surgery usually happens before the age of 2, and needs to be done before puberty.
Having an undescended testicle as a child increases your risk of testicular cancer. The risk may be higher if you did not have surgery for this.
If you had surgery to bring down the testicles as a child, you should check your testicles regularly. This is important so you can notice any changes early.
Carcinoma in situ (CIS) is when there are abnormal cells in the testicle. If it is not treated, it increases the risk of testicular cancer developing.
CIS is sometimes found after having a biopsy of the testicle – for example, to investigate infertility (being unable to start a pregnancy).
Treatment for CIS may include:
If the treatment involves removing the affected testicle, it should not affect your ability to get an erection or make someone pregnant, as long as your other testicle is healthy. This means you will still produce testosterone after the surgery.
There is no evidence to suggest that injury to a testicle increases your risk of getting testicular cancer. But an injury to a testicle or the groin may bring possible symptoms of testicular cancer to your doctor’s attention.
Having a vasectomy does not increase the risk of getting testicular cancer.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our testicular cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) Guidelines on Testicular Cancer. March 2015. Available from: https://www.baus.org.uk/professionals/sections/testicular_cancer.aspx (accessed April 2022).
European Association of Urology (EAU) Guidelines on Testicular Cancer 2022. Available from: https://d56bochluxqnz.cloudfront.net/documents/full-guideline/EAU-Guidelines-on-Testicular-Cancer-2022.pdf (accessed April 2022).
European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). Testicular seminoma and non-seminoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Last updated 2022.
European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). Testicular seminoma and non-seminoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Last updated 2022. Available from: https://www.annalsofoncology.org/article/S0923-7534(22)00007-2/fulltext (accessed April 2022).
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