Testicular cancer risk and maternal parity: a population-based cohort study

Br J Cancer. 1998 Apr;77(7):1180-5. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1998.196.


The aim was to study, in a population-based cohort design, whether first-born sons run a higher risk of testicular cancer than later born sons; to investigate whether this difference in risk was affected by birth cohort, age of the son, maternal age, interval to previous delivery and other reproductive factors; and, finally, to evaluate to what extent changes in women's parity over time might explain the increasing incidence of testicular cancer. By using data from the Civil Registration System, a database was established of all women born in Denmark since 1935 and all their children alive in 1968 or born later. Sons with testicular cancer were identified in the Danish Cancer Registry. Among 1015994 sons followed for 15981 967 person-years, 626 developed testicular cancer (443 non-seminomas, 183 seminomas). Later born sons had a decreased risk of testicular cancer (RR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.67-0.95) compared with first-born sons. The RR was 0.79 (95% CI = 0.64-0.98) for non-seminomas and 0.81 (95% CI = 0.58-1.13) for seminomas. There was no association between testicular cancer risk and overall parity of the mother, maternal or paternal age at the birth of the son, or maternal age at first birth. The decreased risk of testicular cancer among later born sons was not modified by age, birth cohort, interval to the previous birth, sex of the first-born child, or maternal age at birth of the son or at first birth. The increased proportion of first-borns from birth cohort 1946 to birth cohort 1969 only explained around 3% of an approximated two-fold increase in incidence between the cohorts. Our data document a distinctly higher risk of testicular cancer in first-born compared with later born sons and suggest that the most likely explanation should be sought among exposures in utero. The increase in the proportion of first-borns in the population has only contributed marginally to the increase in testicular cancer incidence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Order*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Parity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Testicular Neoplasms / epidemiology*