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Undescended Testicle: Risk for Testicular Cancer

Topic Overview

Being born with an undescended testicle increases the risk for testicular cancer.

  • The risk is about 4 to 10 times greater in males who have an undescended testicle than in other males.footnote 1
  • The higher up in the path of descent a testicle stops, the more likely it is to form a tumor. An undescended testicle in the belly is 4 to 6 times more likely to develop cancer than one that is farther down toward the scrotum.

Moving the testicle to the scrotum may help reduce the risk of cancer. Most doctors recommend surgery to place undescended testicles in the scrotum. This makes it much easier to find cancer if it does develop.

Untreated undescended testicles are usually removed in adult men and teens who have gone through puberty because of the increased risk of cancer.

Men who have an undescended testicle should have regular medical checkups (at least once every 2 years) throughout life. These checkups may include a testicular exam. If you have an undescended testicle, talk with your doctor about how often you need to be checked.

Some doctors recommend a testicular biopsy during surgery to correct an undescended testicle if the testicle is in the belly or the child has genital defects, such as hypospadias, or a genetic disorder. In this test, a small sample of tissue is taken from the testicles and examined to find out the potential for developing cancer.

References

Citations

  1. Braga LHP, Bagli DJ (2011). Urologic abnormalities of the genitourinary tract. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 1741-1748. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerPeter Anderson, MD, FRCS(C) - Pediatric Urology

Current as ofMay 5, 2017


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