There are a number of factors that may increase the risk that a man may develop a male reproductive cancer. Some of these risk factors are typically linked to many forms of cancer in addition to cancers of the male reproductive organs. These common cancer-causing factors include age, diet or weight, heredity, and race. Other risk factors are unique to a specific type of cancer.
Testicular Cancer Risks
While the causes of testicular cancer are not known, studies show that several factors increase a man’s risk of development of testicular cancer, including an undescended testicle or testicle problems, Klinefelter syndrome, abnormal genes, personal or family history of testicular cancer, and race. Accumulated data have convincingly demonstrated that having a vasectomy is not a risk factor for testicular cancer.
Undescended testicle (cryptorchidism) Normally, the testicles descend into the scrotum before birth, but occasionally they remain inside the abdomen. Men who have had a testicle that did not move down into the scrotum are at greater risk for developing testicular cancer, even if surgery was performed during the child’s infancy to place the testicle into the scrotum. (However, most men who develop testicular cancer do not have a history of undescended testicles.)
Abnormal testicular development Men whose testicles did not develop normally are at increased risk for testicular cancer.
Klinefelter syndrome Klinefelter syndrome, a sex chromosome disorder characterized by low levels of male hormones, sterility, breast enlargement, and small testicles, has been linked to a higher risk of developing testicular cancer.
Personal history Men who have had testicular cancer are at increased risk of developing cancer in the other testicle.
Genes and family history Genetic abnormality of chromosome 12 has been linked to testicular cancer, as has a family history of the disease.
Age Testicular cancer affects younger men, particularly those between ages 15 and 35; it is uncommon in children and in men older than age 40.
Race Testicular cancer is more common among Caucasians than men of other races. Incidence rates in Switzerland and Denmark — about eight new cases per 100,000 men per year — are among the world’s highest.
Urethral Cancer Risk
The cause of urethral cancer is unknown, but there are a number of risk factors, including bladder cancer, human papillomavirus (wart) infection, advanced age, chronic irritation of the urethra, and smoking.
Bladder cancer The primary risk factor for urethral cancer is a history of bladder cancer.
HPV Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) or other sexually transmitted diseases is also a risk factor. HPV is a group of more than 70 viruses that are transmitted sexually and cause genital warts. Two types of HPV are associated with warts that appear on the urethra. Having unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners increases the risk for HPV infection.
Age People older than age 60 are at higher risk of development of urethral cancer.
Chronic irritation Irritation of the urethra that results from sexual intercourse or chronic urinary tract infection (UTI) may lead to urethral cancer.
Smoking Smoking cigarettes increases the risk for bladder cancer, which in turn is a risk factor for urethral cancer.