Am I at risk of prostate cancer?

In the UK, about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with 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.

If you have any of these risk factors or are worried about your risk of prostate cancer, or if you have any symptoms, speak to your GP. They can talk to you about your risk, and about the tests that are used to diagnose prostate cancer. You can also get in touch with our Specialist Nurses, who can help you understand your personal risk of prostate cancer.

See and share our infographic on prostate cancer risk factors

Age

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and your risk increases as you get older. The average age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65 and 69 years. If you are under 50, your risk of getting prostate cancer is very low. Men under 50 can get it, but it isn’t common.

If you're over 50 and you're worried about your risk of prostate cancer, you might want to ask your GP about tests for prostate cancer. If you're over 45 but have a higher risk of prostate cancer – because you have a family history of prostate cancer or you're a black man – you might want to talk to your GP too.

Family history and genetics

Inside every cell in our body is a set of instructions called genes. These are passed down (inherited) from our parents. Genes control how the body grows, works and what it looks like. If something goes wrong with one or more genes (known as a gene fault or mutation), it can sometimes cause cancer.

If people in your family have prostate cancer or breast cancer, it might increase your own risk of getting prostate cancer. This is because you may have inherited the same faulty genes.

  • You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has had it, compared to a man who has no relatives with prostate cancer.
  • Your chance of getting prostate cancer may be even greater if your father or brother was under 60 when he was diagnosed, or if you have more than one close relative (father or brother) with prostate cancer.
  • Your risk of getting prostate cancer is higher if your mother or sister has had breast cancer.

Although prostate cancer can run in families, having a family history doesn’t mean you will get it. But it's important to speak to your GP if you have any relatives with prostate cancer or breast cancer, as your risk of hereditary prostate cancer may be higher. Remember to tell the GP about your family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer.

Black men

Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men. We don’t know why, but it might be linked to genes. In the UK, about 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

If you're a black man and you're over 45, speak to your GP about your risk of prostate cancer, even if you don't have any symptoms. Remember to tell them if you have a family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer. You can also contact our Specialist Nurses.

Read more about the risk in black men.

Body weight

No one knows how to prevent prostate cancer. But staying a healthy weight  for example by eating healthily and keeping active – may be important.

Research suggests that being overweight or obese can increase your risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer that’s aggressive (more likely to spread) or advanced (cancer that has spread outside the prostate).

Read more in our leaflet, Diet, physical activity and your risk of prostate cancer.

What to read next

References

Updated: August 2017 | To be reviewed: August 2019

  • References  

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