There are many causes of cancer, not the least of which is smoking, exposure to pollutants and other carcinogens, poor nutrition, obesity, and more. With prostate cancer, other risk factors include age and race. In terms of age, it is very rare for men under the age of 40 to develop prostate cancer. In terms of race, African-American men are at higher risk for developing prostate cancer than caucasian men. Additionally, genetics plays a role in prostate cancer just as it does with colon and breast cancer. In fact, studies have shown that family history significantly increases the risk of developing the disease; more than anything genetics is the most compelling risk for prostate cancer. Here are some facts to keep in mind when it comes to the genetics of prostate cancer:
Having one close male relative that has had prostate cancer doubles a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer in his lifetime.
Having two close male relatives that have had prostate cancer increases a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer by five times.
Of those who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, 5% to 10% have a diagnosis that is considered hereditary.
Research continues to be conducted regarding the connection between hereditary and prostate cancer. Specifically, there is research being done regarding the mutation of one particular gene and how that mutation can cause increased risk of developing prostate cancer. It is this type of information that will allow for new developments in diagnostic tools as well as treatment.
In the meantime, men should continue to have regular prostate screenings. And those with a family history of the disease should alert their doctor to their potential risk so that together they can manage these risk factors. There are genetic counselors whose expertise rests in identifying potential inherited cancer risk and helping to develop a treatment plan with that information in mind.