The American Cancer Society (ACS) has predicted that in 2019, there will be approximately 174,650 newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer, of which about 31,620 cases will be deadly. And in their lifetimes, about 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. So how can you assess your risk of developing the disease? The likelihood of someone developing prostate cancer depends on a number of risk factors such as age, diet, and genetic predisposition. The ACS lists a number of prostate cancer risk factors, including: age, race/ethnicity, family history, geography, and genetic changes.
The older you get, the higher your chances of developing prostate cancer. According to the ACS, it’s rare in men younger than 40, but quickly becomes increasingly common after the age of 50, with about 6 in 10 cases of the disease being found in men over 65.
Your race and ethnicity also play a factor in their chances of developing prostate cancer; what’s more is prostate cancer is over twice as likely to be deadly in African American men than in Caucasian men. Additionally, the disease is less common in Asian American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non Hispanic Caucasians. The underlying reasons behind these ethnoracial differences remain unclear.
Family history is another important risk factor to consider when evaluating your risk of developing prostate cancer. If your brother or father has prostate cancer, your chances of developing the disease is more than doubled; the risk is higher if the individual’s brother has the disease as opposed to if his father has it. And if you have multiple relatives with the disease, your chances of developing prostate cancer are considerably higher, especially if the afflicted relatives were young at the time of diagnosis. These patterns suggest that some instances of prostate cancer involve genetic factors.
Geographical location also plays a role in prostate cancer, though it’s less clear. Most cases of prostate cancer are found in North America, the Caribbean Islands, Northwestern Europe, and Australia. These discrepancies could be due to lifestyle differences.
There are also several genetic changes that appear to increase your risk of developing prostate cancer, though they likely only account for a small percentage of cases. For example, scientists have speculated that mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which raise an individual’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, could also increase some men’s likelihood of developing prostate cancer.
There are also a handful of factors that have a less clear impact on prostate cancer risk. These include diet, obesity, chemical exposure, prostate inflammation, smoking, vasectomies, and sexually transmitted infections.
There are many different factors that contribute to the likelihood that you will develop prostate cancer–the same goes for all different types of cancer. The best thing you can do for yourself is try to be vigilant about these risk factors and lead the healthiest life possible. It would be wise to get annual checkups with a physician and sign up for Ezra; we can provide you with low-cost, safe, and accurate prostate cancer screening with our MRI technology. What’s more is our technology is non-invasive: it simply involves an MRI scan, as opposed to the standard approach, which generally involves a rectal exam.