Testicular Cancer Risk Factors

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer to affect young men between the ages of fifteen and forty. Despite this, testicular cancer is relatively rare: only 7,000 cases are reported every year in the United States. Prognosis is generally very favorable. Testicular cancer has a ninety percent cure rate, even if the cancer spreads beyond the testicle.

Testicular disease and cancer occupies a special place in men’s health. Early detection of testicular cancer greatly improves treatment outcomes, but many men feel uncomfortable approaching their doctors about genital disorders. This tendency to avoid discussing testicular symptoms can have serious repercussions on men’s health.

The Testicular Self-Examination (TSE) and Men’s Health

A monthly testicular self-exam, or TSE, plays an important role in men’s health, but is often neglected. Most early stage testicle cancer is detected through a regular TSE. Men should be familiar with the size, texture, and weight of their testicles well enough to detect changes.

Perform a TSE once a month, after a bath or shower. The warm water will relax the scrotum, making it easier to examine the testicles. During the TSE, each testicle should be gently rolled between the thumb and forefinger to check for lumps or tenderness. During an initial TSE, don’t be concerned if you discover one testicle is larger than the other. This is normal for most men.

A monthly TSE increases men’s health awareness. Detecting changes to testicles is much easier when they are examined monthly. Make a TSE part of your monthly health routine: it may save your life.

Testicular Cancer Risk Factors

The risk of cancer increases when other men’s health issues are present. The following men’s health conditions increase the chance of developing testicular cancer:

Cryptorchidism: One percent of men are born with cryptorchidism, or an undescended testicle. Surgery is required to move the testicle to its proper location. An increased risk of testicular cancer, atrophy, and sterility is associated with cryptorchidism, even following surgical correction.

Testicular Atrophy: A condition in which the testicles do not develop to full size.

Infertility: Infertility and testicle dysfunction increase the risk of testicular cancer. In fact, many cases of testicle cancer are diagnosed during infertility tests.

Klinefelter’s Syndrome: A genetic condition in which men’s genetic codes include an extra X chromosome. Symptoms of this syndrome include testicular atrophy, infertility, breast enlargement, and low levels of testosterone.

Ethnicity, Family History, and Men’s Health

Ethnicity and family health histories affect many different aspects of men’s health, and testicular cancer is no exception. Men who have a family history of testicular cancer are at greater risk of the disease. Ethnically, Caucasians are four to five times more likely to develop testicular cancer than people of African descent. People of Native American, Hispanic, and Asian descent are also at less risk than Caucasians.


American Cancer Society. (updated 2003). What is testicular cancer? Retrieved November 4, 2003, from www.cancer.org/docroot/cri/content/cri_2_4_1x_what_is_testicular_cancer_ 41.asp?sitearea=cri.

Hellerstedt, B. A.