How Does Family History Affect My Prostate Cancer Risk?

Some traits men inherit from family members can be welcome. Others like baldness and risks for developing cancer, not so much. When it comes to prostate cancer how does family history affect your prostate cancer risk?

Risk Factors And Statistics

Risk factors are anything that increase your chances of getting a disease like cancer. Prostate cancer does run in families and there may be an inherited genetic factor, although counterintuitively, most prostate cancers occur in men without a family history.

Your chances of getting prostate cancer doubles if a brother or father had the disease, though the risk seems to be even higher if your brother had it as opposed to your father. In addition, if some male relatives were diagnosed when they were young, the risk is even higher.

If two close relatives were affected, the risk for developing prostate cancer is increased five-fold.
2 people's hands holding prostate cancer awareness ribbons. genetic risk concept

Older men and non-Hispanic black Americans are more likely to develop prostate cancer than younger ones, and in fact, 6 out of 10 cases are in men older than 65.

Although a serious disease, most men diagnosed with it do not die.

The American Cancer Society recommends that men with a family history talk to Urology Specialists at age 40 – 45.

Recent Studies

Research conducted by both The American Cancer Society and Sloan Kettering Cancer Center are looking at a number of inheritable genetic changes that might add to a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

Men with mutations in the gene BRCA2 and possibly BRCA1 (which increases the risk of ovarian and breast cancer in women) are being studied. Nothing is conclusive as yet.

The goal is to establish to what extent these mutations play a role in causing the disease. Once more information is gained, it could give doctors better methods of identifying men with increased risks and maybe lead to new treatments.

Imperfect Prostate Cancer Screenings

Screening for prostate cancer is done with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. The test is a bit unreliable as it sometimes misses seeing cancer. Other times it can find something questionable and it turns out to be nothing.

The advantages of the screening is reducing deaths, but there can also be harm done from unnecessary treatment.

Complications from treatments for prostate cancer can include urinary and bowel issues plus sexual side effects. Unfortunately there are no tests that tell you if the cancer is slow growing or aggressive.

Ask Urology Specialists about your personal risk factors and consider whether screening for prostate cancer is right for you.

If you are concerned that several family members had prostate cancer, or because someone was diagnosed at an early age, contact Urology Specialists to help you manage risks.

As always, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (605) 336-0635 today.

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