What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer affects roughly one in seven men during his lifetime. Understanding your risk is important when considering at what age you should begin screening for prostate cancer.

What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men in the US, but it can be caught early through screenings and be highly manageable. If you have one or more of these risk factors, you should talk to your doctor about when you should start screening.

  • Age. The older a man is, the greater his risk of getting prostate cancer. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), one in 10,000 men under age 40 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and the rate rises to one in 38 for men between 40 and 59, then again to one in 14 for men ages 60 to 69.Older man fishing with his dog
  • Family History. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, if your father, brother or son has had prostate cancer, your chances of developing it double or triple. It is important to know your family medical history so you can accurately assess your risk.
  • Race. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), prostate cancer is more prevalent in certain racial and ethnic groups, in particular, African Americans.

Screening for prostate cancer

For men at average risk, the ACS recommends that you discuss screening with your doctor beginning at age 50. If you’re at high risk — if you’re African American or have had a first-degree relative diagnosed before they were 65 — they recommend discussing screening beginning at age 45. Those at the highest risk, with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age, should begin screening at age 40. The American Urological Association notes the that greatest benefit of screening appears in men between the ages of 55 and 69.

After your initial screening, you and your doctor will decide how frequently you will need repeat screenings, based on your risk factors for prostate cancer. For some men, this will be every year, and for others, every two years.

According to the PCF, prostate cancer has virtually no symptoms. The good news is that 90 percent of prostate cancers are caught early on, and the five-year survival rate from the early stages is nearly 100 percent. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of screening for early detection and survival.

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