It’s Men’s Health Week. A common men’s health issue is prostate cancer. There are many known risk factors for prostate cancer. A risk factor is something that increases your risk of getting a certain disease. Different diseases have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like lifestyle choices, can be changed. Others can’t be changed.
Having a risk factor or several risk factors does not mean that you will get cancer. Many who have one or more risk factors never get cancer. Others get cancer and have few or no risk factors. Here are several known risk factors that might affect a man’s chances of getting prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Prostate cancer is rarely diagnosed in men under 40. After age 50, the chance increases rapidly. Almost 60 percent of prostate cancer is found in men older than 65.
2. Race and Ethnicity
Prostate cancer is found more often in African American men and Caribbean men of African descent than in men of other races. Men from those races and ethnicities tend to be diagnosed younger. Prostate cancer is found less often in Asian American, Hispanic, and Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites.
North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and the Caribbean islands have a higher incidence of prostate cancer. Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America have a lower incidence of prostate cancer. This may be due to more screening for prostate cancer in developed countries and lifestyle differences, like diet.
4. Family History
There may be a genetic factor in prostate cancer as it seems to run in some families. Most prostate cancers are diagnosed in men without a family history. Having a brother or father with prostate cancer increases a man’s risk by more than double. The risk is higher for men who have a brother with the disease. It’s much higher for men who have several relatives that had prostate cancer, especially if their relatives were young at the time of diagnosis.
5. Genetic Mutations
There are some inherited gene changes that raise prostate cancer risk. They account for very few cases overall.
- BRCA1 or BRCA2 Increased mutations of these genes are linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. They can also increase prostate cancer risk in men, especially mutations of BRCA2.
- Lynch Syndrome Lynch syndrome is hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, which is caused by inherited gene mutations. Men with Lynch syndrome have an increased risk for many cancers, including prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Screening
The best way to survive prostate cancer is detection through screening. The two-part screening is simple, and men should begin this screening when they are 40. First is a blood test. Blood is drawn from the arm and analyzed to detect Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), a protein produced by cancerous and healthy cells. Second is a digital rectal exam (DRE). Your doctor will check your prostate by inserting a gloved finger into the rectum and feeling the prostate for abnormalities that might be cancer. Having both tests provides your doctor with a more complete view of your prostate health.