Many people with testicular cancer don’t have a family history of it. Still, your risk may be much higher if you have a parent or sibling with the disease. But environment and hormones also play a role.

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All cancer is genetic. That’s because cancer stems from genetic changes to your DNA, called mutations. These mutations cause cells to grow and divide out of control. Sometimes, people can pass down those genetic mutations from one generation to the next.

If a parent carries a gene that may increase the risk of testicular cancer, it’s possible they could pass it down to you. In fact, this is more common in testicular cancer than in several other cancers, including breast cancer.

Even so, many people who develop testicular cancer don’t have a family history. This means that other factors can affect your risk.

Keep reading to discover how your genetics can influence your risk of testicular cancer, what other factors play a role, and what you can do to lower your risk.

Testicular cancer results from DNA changes in testicular cells. But these changes occur due to many influences, including:

  • random mutations
  • inherited mutations
  • carcinogens, like pesticides, radiation, or cigarette smoke
  • infections, like HIV
  • hormonal influences

Inherited mutations are part of your DNA from the start of your existence. But other mutations can occur at any time during your life, including when you’re still a fetus.

About 90% of people with testicular cancer don’t have a family history of it. Still, your risk of developing testicular cancer may be much higher if you have a parent or sibling who has it.

This is largely due to genetics, but it may also be due to similar environmental factors. A 2016 Nordic study found that the risk of genetic factors influencing the development of testicular cancer was 37%. An additional 24% risk was due to a shared environment.

The above study came to its conclusions by examining sets of twins. Twin studies allow us to assess the influence of genetic and environmental factors.

This is because sets of twins have identical genes and a shared environment through pregnancy. They also tend to have similar lifestyle and environmental exposures through childhood and often beyond.

How likely am I to have testicular cancer if my parent had it?

According to a 2019 research review, your risk of testicular cancer might be four to six times higher if a parent had the disease. It might be 8 to 10 times higher if you have a sibling with testicular cancer history.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll develop testicular cancer. Many other factors can affect your risk.

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As of 2021, scientists have identified 78 gene locations influencing testicular cancer risk. While it’s possible for a mutation in just one of these genes to cause testicular cancer, it’s more typical for mutations in multiple genes to be the cause.

Some of the genes most commonly associated with testicular cancer include:

About 1 in 250 people assigned male at birth may develop testicular cancer. It’s more common in the United States and Europe than in other parts of the world. In the United States, white people tend to be four to five times more likely to have testicular cancer than Black or Asian people.

While family history may significantly increase your risk of testicular cancer, other risk factors play a role. These include:

Undescended testicle

Having an undescended testicle (cryptorchidism) may increase your risk of testicular by almost nine times. About 1.0% to 4.6% of full-term infants assigned male have at least one undescended testicle at birth. That rate is as high as 45% in babies born prematurely.

If testicular cancer does develop, it’s usually in the testicle that didn’t descend. But there are also cases where cancer develops in the typically descended testicle and not in the undescended one.

This suggests that an undescended testicle doesn’t cause you to have testicular cancer. Instead, another health condition could increase your risk of testicular cancer and cryptorchidism.

Viral infections

Certain viruses can increase your risk of cancer. According to 2019 research, only two viruses tend to have a link to an increased risk of testicular cancer: HIV and Epstein-Barr virus.

Previous testicular cancer

Even after effectively treating testicular cancer in one testicle, about 3% to 4% of people will develop it in their other testicle.

Indications of testicular cancer

Early symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • a lump on your testicle
  • testicular swelling and pain
  • breast growth
  • early puberty
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There’s no known way to prevent testicular cancer. Most of the risk factors are out of your control. But if you have a family history, you can take steps to lower your risk or improve your outlook if you do develop cancer.

Testicular cancer is uncommon. But it may be more likely to run in families than other, more common, cancers. Having a first-degree relative with breast or prostate cancer can double your risk. But a first-degree relative with testicular cancer may increase your risk by 4 to 10 times.

Still, many people with testicular cancer don’t have a family history of it. You may be more likely to develop testicular cancer due to other factors. Carcinogens, infections, and having an undescended testicle can all contribute to your testicular cancer risk. A random genetic mutation can also be the cause.

If you have a parent or sibling with testicular cancer, you may want to consider genetic testing. Although it’s not definitive, it could let you know if you have a genetic mutation that may increase your risk.

But the outlook for people with testicular cancer is generally good. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate is 95%. It’s even higher if you detect it early. Self-exams may help you spot and treat testicular cancer early.