Causes and prevention of testicular cancer

The exact cause of testicular cancer is unknown. But there are certain things called risk factors that can increase your chance of getting the disease. These include:

  • Undescended testicle: Testicular cancer is more common in men with a testicle that did not descend, or which descended some time after birth.
  • Previous history of testicular cancer: You are slightly more at risk if you have had testicular cancer in the past.
  • Family history of testicular cancer: You are more at risk if your father or brother had the disease.
  • Fertility problems: If you have fertility problems, you have a small risk of testicular cancer. A vasectomy does not increase your risk of developing it.
  • Mumps: If you had a rare complication of mumps called mumps orchitis, your risk increases.
  • Ethnic and social group: If you are white skinned, you have a higher chance of getting testicular cancer than African-Caribbean or Asian men. Testicular cancer is also more common if you are in a wealthier social group.
  • Klinefelter´s syndrome: This is a sex chromosome disorder that causes low levels of male hormones, sterility, breast enlargement and small testicles. If you have the syndrome, you have an increased risk of testicular cancer.

There is no evidence that injury to your testicle will cause cancer but it may make it easier to notice. It is not certain if being around chemicals can cause testicular cancer.

Research is also checking to see if tall men have a higher risk or not. Remember testicular cancer is not infectious and cannot be passed on to other people. There is also no link between vasectomy and testicular cancer.

If you feel you might be at risk, talk to your family doctor (GP) about your concerns. He or she may advise you to visit a specialist. If you had undescended testes as a baby, examine your testicles regularly.

For more information on testicular cancer and ways to reduce your risk, see our leaflet Testicular cancer – What you should know.

How to check your testicles

See our visual guide to checking your testicles.

Date Last Reviewed: 
Wednesday, February 1, 2017