On this page you will learn more about the prostate cancer risk factors that increase your chances of developing such cancers.
The risk factor is to increase a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often affect the chance of developing cancer, most do not cause cancer directly or by themselves.
Some people with known risk factors never develop cancer, while others who do not have known risk factors develop cancer. Knowing your risk factors and discussing with your doctor may help you make smarter lifestyle and healthcare options.
Prostate Cancer Risk Factors:
The following factors may increase the risk of prostate cancer in men:
The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, especially after age 50. More than 80% of prostate cancers are diagnosed as men 65 years of age or older. Older patients diagnosed with prostate cancer may face unique challenges, especially in cancer treatment.
Black men are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer than white men. They are also more likely to develop prostate cancer at an earlier age and have more aggressive invasive tumors.
The exact cause of these differences is unclear and may involve genetic, socioeconomic or other factors. Hispanic men are at lower risk of developing prostate cancer and dying from the disease than non-Hispanic whites.
Prostate cancer occurs most often in North America and Northern Europe. Prostate cancer appears to be increasing among Asian men living in urban settings, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, North America and European cities, especially those with less lifestyle, less physical activity and poor health.
Prostate cancer, which is called familial prostate cancer, runs in a family and occurs approximately 20% of the time. This type of prostate cancer develops due to a combination of shared genes and shared environmental or lifestyle factors.
Hereditary prostate cancer means that cancer is inherited from a relative and is rare, accounting for about 5% of all cases. Hereditary prostate cancer occurs when changes in genes or mutations are passed from one generation to the next in a family. If the male family history contains any of the following characteristics, then genetic prostate cancer may be suspected:
- 3 or more first-degree relatives with prostate cancer
- 3rd generation prostate cancer on the same side of the family
- 2 or more relatives, such as father, brother, son, grandfather, uncle or nephew, on the same side of a family diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 55
If a man has a first-degree relative – meaning a father, brother or son – who has prostate cancer, his risk of prostate cancer is two to three times higher than the average risk. The number of relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer has even increased further.
Hereditary Breast & Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Syndrome:
HBOC is involved in DNA repair mutations in the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 genes. BRCA stands for “BReast CAncer.” HBOC is most commonly associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women.
However, men with HBOC also have an increased risk of developing breast cancer and more aggressive prostate cancer. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are thought to cause only a small fraction of familial prostate cancer. Men with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations should consider screening for prostate cancer at an earlier age.
Genetic testing may only be applicable to families with prostate cancer who may also have HBOC. If you are concerned about this in your family’s medical history, please consult a genetic counselor or doctor for more information.
Other Genetic Changes:
Other genes that may cause an increased risk of prostate cancer include HPC1, HPC2, HPCX, CAPB, ATM, and FANCA. However, none of them have been directly confirmed to cause or be specific to prostate cancer.
Research is ongoing to identify genes associated with increased risk of prostate cancer, and researchers are constantly learning how specific genetic changes affect the development of prostate cancer. Currently, there are no genetic tests that can be used to determine the chances of men suffering from prostate cancer.
Agent Orange Exposure:
The US Department of Veterans Affairs listed prostate cancer as a disease associated with the orange agent used during the Vietnam War. If you are a veteran who may have been exposed to orange, please consult your doctor in the VA system. Learn more about Orange links on the Veterans Affairs.
No studies have shown that diet and nutrition can directly lead to or prevent the development of prostate cancer. However, many studies that focus on the link between certain dietary behaviors and cancer suggest a possible link. For example, obesity is associated with many cancers, including deadly prostate cancer, and a healthy diet is recommended to avoid weight gain.