Who is at risk?

In the UK, about 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives. Older men, men with a family history of prostate cancer and Black men are more at risk.

See and share our infographic on prostate cancer risk.

Contents

Age

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 50 and your risk increases with age. The average age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 70 and 74 years. If you are under 50 then your risk of getting prostate cancer is very low. Younger men can be affected, but this is rare.

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Family history and genetics

Inside every cell of our body is a set of instructions called genes. These are inherited from our parents. Genes control how the body grows, works and what it looks like. Researchers have found some characteristics in genes that might be passed on through your parents and could increase your risk of developing prostate cancer. Only 5 to 10 per cent of prostate cancers are thought to be strongly linked to an inherited risk.

  • You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has been diagnosed with it, compared with a man who has no affected relatives.
  • There may be a higher chance of you developing prostate cancer if your relative was under 60 when he was diagnosed or if you have more than one close relative with prostate cancer.
  • Your risk of prostate cancer might be increased if you have close relatives with breast cancer - if their breast cancer is linked to faults in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2.  

If you have relatives with prostate cancer or breast cancer and are worried about this, speak to your GP. Although the risk is increased, it doesn't necessarily mean you will get prostate cancer.

Learn more about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene faults.

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Black men

Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other ethnic backgrounds. In the UK, about 1 in 4 Black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives. The reasons for this are not yet clear but might be linked to genes.

Read more about the risk in Black men

Find out four things all Black men should know

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Lifestyle

No one knows how to prevent prostate cancer, but diet and a healthy lifestyle may be important in protecting against the disease.

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References

Lifetime risk

Cancer Research UK website: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/incidence/risk

Age
Cancer Research UK, http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/types/prostate/incidence/

Family history
Dianat SS, Margreiter M, Eckersberger E, et al. Gene polymorphisms and prostate cancer: the evidence. BJUI. 2009;104:1560-1572

Edwards SM, Kote-Jarai Z, Meitz J et al. Two percent of men with early-onset prostate cancer harbour germline mutations in the BRCA2 gene. Am J Hum Genet. 2003;72(1):1-12.

Elo JP and Visakorpi T. Molecular genetics of prostate cancer. Ann Med. 2001;33(2):130-41

Johns LE, Houlston RS. A systematic review and meta-analysis of familial prostate cancer risk. BJU International. 2003;91:789-794.

Mitra AV, Bancroft EK, Barbachano Y, et al. Targeted prostate cancer screening in men with mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 detects aggressive prostate cancer: preliminary analysis of the results of the IMPACT study. BJU Int. 2010.

Thompson D, Easton DF. Cancer Incidence in BRCA1 mutation carriers. J Natl Cancer Inst, 2002;94(18):1358-1365.

Ethnicity
Ben-Shlomo Y, Evans S, Ibrahim F, et al. PROCESS study group. The Risk of Prostate Cancer amongst Black Men in the United Kingdom: The PROCESS Cohort Study. Eur Urol. 2008;53(1):99-105

Hooker S, Hernandez W, Chen H, et al. Replication of prostate cancer risk loci on 8q24, 11q13, 17q12, 19q33, and Xp11 in African Americans Prostate 2010 Feb 15;70(3):270-6).

Lavender NA, Benford ML, VanCleave TT, et al. Examination of polymorphic glutathione S-transferase (GST) genes, tobacco smoking and prostate cancer risk among Men of African Descent: A case-control study BMC Cancer. 2009;9:397

Mason TE, Ricks-Santi L, Chen W, et al. Association of CD14 variant with prostate cancer in African American men Prostate 2010 Feb 15;70(3):262-9)

Metcalfe C, Evans S, Ibrahim F, et al. Pathways to diagnosis for black men and white men found to have prostate cancer: the PROCESS cohort study. British Journal of Cancer (2008)
National Cancer Intelligent Network. Cancer incidence and survival by major ethnic group, England. 2002-2006

Wang Y, Ray AM, Johnson EK, et al. Evidence for an association between prostate cancer and chromosome 8q24 and 10q11 genetic variants in African American men: The flint men's health study. Prostate. 2010.

Xu J, Kibel AS, Hu JJ, et al. Prostate cancer risk associated loci in African Americans Cancer Epidemiol Markers Prev. 2009;18(7)2145-49.

Working out the risk of prostate cancer in Black men. Prostate Cancer UK. 2013. Available from: 1 in 4 stat explained