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Testicular Cancer Risks and Prevention

Men who develop testicular cancer are more likely than other men to have certain risk factors for the disease. A risk factor is something that increases the chance of developing a disease.

Testicular Cancer Risk Factors

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing testicular cancer:

  • Age. Men between the ages of 20 and 35 are at the highest risk for developing testicular cancer
  • Having an undescended testicle or abnormal development of the testicles
  • Having a personal or family history of testicular cancer, especially in a brother or male cousin
  • Race. White men are at a higher risk of developing testicular cancer
  • This does not mean men who have one or more of these factors will develop testicular cancer. If you feel you are at risk, speak with your Penn Medicine physician.

Testicular Cancer Risk Assessment

Men who have conditions that put them at risk for testicular cancer may benefit from consulting with their physician to determine their risk. If you are at a higher risk for testicular cancer, you should consider getting screened for testicular cancer.

Performing a monthly testicular self-exam is a very important part of testicular cancer prevention.

Performing a Testicular Self-Exam

It is best to perform a testicular self-exam after a warm bath or shower because heat relaxes the scrotum.

The National Cancer Institute recommends that you follow these steps when performing your own testicular self-exam:

  • Stand in front of a mirror. Look for any changes or swelling on the skin of the scrotum.
  • Examine each testicle with both hands. Place your index and middle fingers under the testicle with the thumbs placed on top. Roll the testicle gently between the thumbs and fingers. Don't be surprised if one testicle seems slightly larger than the other. This is normal.
  • Find the epididymis, the soft, tube-like structure behind the testicle that collects and carries sperm. If you are familiar with this structure, you won't mistake it for a suspicious lump. Cancerous lumps usually are found on the sides of the testicle, but can also appear on the front.