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Age, Race, Family History and Prostate Cancer: The Basics

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The underlying cause of prostate cancer is unknown. As with other cancers, however, multiple events over a period of many years are probably necessary to produce a cancerous change in a prostate cell. The study of factors that initiate and promote prostate cancer is an active area of investigation.

The development of cancer is broadly viewed as a two-step process. In the first step, cancer is initiated through genetic alterations in the cell. This is followed by cancer promotion, a process that allows the cancerous cells to continue to grow and progress.

Risk factors for prostate cancer

Age, race and family history are all important risk factors for prostate cancer. In addition, diet and lifestyle factors may influence whether a man will develop prostate cancer. Increasing evidence suggests that fat intake, physical inactivity or being overweight may influence the development or progression of prostate cancer. Whether testosterone replacement therapy affects the development or progression of prostate cancer is not clear. If prostate cancer is present, however, it is believed to cause the disease to progress more rapidly in some men.

  • Age. As a man ages, his risk of developing prostate cancer increases dramatically. This age-related increase is greater for prostate cancer than for any other type of cancer. The average age at diagnosis is between 65 and 70; the average age at death is 80.
  • Race. The incidence (new cases per 100,000 men per year) of prostate cancer in the United States varies by race. Black men are at highest risk, with a rate of 234 per 100,000 men each year. The rate for white men is 150 per 100,000. Asian American men have a lower risk, 88 per 100,000.
  • Family History. Studies of identical and fraternal twins have found that prostate cancer has a stronger hereditary component than many other cancers, including breast and colon cancer. Having one first-degree relative (a brother or father) with prostate cancer doubles the risk of developing the disease; having a second-degree relative (an uncle or grandfather) with the disease confers only a small increase in risk.


Posted in Prostate Disorders on May 12, 2016

Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer

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Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine    

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