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What are the risk factors of prostate cancer?

September 16, 2021

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. One in six Australian men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. Over 19,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in analysis Australia each year, while roughly 3200 men die from the disease each year. However, new testing and technology means more men can have their cancer detected early.

While a diagnosis requires clinical testing, most people underestimate the impact and role of certain risk factors that can increase a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer. This post will explore these known risk factors, including:

Risk Factor 1: Age

Risk increases with age, so the older a man is, the higher the chance of developing the disease. Two-thirds of diagnosed cases are in men over 60, with the remaining third of cases generally being men aged 40-60. It is rare to see a prostate cancer diagnosis in men below 40, but not unheard of.

In diagnoses’ below 50, the mortality rate is significantly higher than those in the 50-65 bracket. Cases under 50 have a mortality rate nearly 2.5x higher than men aged 50-65. Therefore, men should consider testing from the age of 40 and every year after that.

Risk Factor 2: Race

While the exact genetic causes of prostate cancer are unknown, numbers indicate a higher propensity for some races to develop prostate cancer. For example, men of African or African-Caribbean descent are known to have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

Further to this, the disease’s mortality rate in the USA is also higher in African American men than their Asian and Caucasian counterparts. Therefore, men of African descent or mixed race including African descent should inform their clinician of this fact when discussing prostate cancer testing.

Risk Factor 3: Family History

Family history and genetics can play a significant role in a man’s risk of prostate cancer. In fact, having a family history of the disease can increase men’s chance of developing prostate cancer to at least a 1 in 3 likelihood.

How deep the family history of the disease runs will determine how much higher a person’s overall risk is. For example, having a first-degree relative such as a father or brother who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer will more than double your risk. While if two or more first-degree relatives developed prostate cancer when they were older than 55, the risk increases to 3.5x that of a man with no family history. It’s also important to note men who unfortunately had a brother or father die of prostate cancer younger than 60 have an even greater increased risk.

If you would like to learn more our Prostate Cancer Family History — The Ultimate Guide, goes into even more detail.

Prostate cancer is one of the most heritable cancers because it goes beyond anatomies. Having a mother or sister with breast cancer can also increase a man’s risk.

If a family history of prostate cancer exists, these men need to get regularly tested. They should also ensure they are working with an expert clinician who understands the influence of family history on prostate cancer. The three most important takeaways for family history when considering prostate cancer are this:

  1. A family history of prostate cancer can increase your risk by up to 5.0x that of the population average.
  2. First-degree relatives are the most critical link when determining your prostate cancer family history.
  3. If you have a family history of the disease, you should get tested from 40 years old and continue testing each year.

What to do if you are at risk?

Prostate cancer is common and hereditary, and unfortunately, it will affect 1 in 6 men during their lifetime. However, even with an increased risk, early detection is possible and provides the best chance of survival. As such, discussing your risk factors with an expert clinician is the best path to early detection.

At Maxwell Plus, we allow men to connect with an expert doctor who will help design you a personalised testing pathway. You can click here to get started.

Moreover, if you have any loved ones in your life who you believe should get tested, Maxwell Plus is always available. We can handle reminders and even co-sponsor their testing if they cannot afford the service. If you would like to refer your family members, please contact us.