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. 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.
Inside every cell in our body is a set of instructions called genes. These are inherited from our parents. If something goes wrong with one or more genes (known as a fault or mutation), it can cause cancer. Some faults in genes can be passed on from your parents and could increase your risk of prostate cancer.
- You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has been diagnosed with it, compared to a man who has no relatives with prostate cancer.
- You may have a higher chance of getting prostate cancer if your relative was under 60 when they were diagnosed with prostate cancer, or if you have more than one first degree relative (father or brother) with prostate cancer.
- You may have a higher risk of prostate cancer if your mother or sister has had breast cancer, particularly if they were diagnosed under the age of 60. This risk is only higher for men whose relative’s breast cancer was linked to faults in genes called BRCA1 or BRCA2.
The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are sometimes known as breast cancer genes. Faults in these genes can increase a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer. They can also increase a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer. Faults in these genes are rare but 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.
Faults in other genes may also increase the risk of prostate cancer. Each of these faults may only increase your risk a small amount. But if you have lots of these faults, you may have a higher risk of prostate cancer. We need more research to fully understand how faults in genes affect a man’s risk of prostate cancer.
Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other ethnic backgrounds.