Prostate Cancer Inherited Risk

Factors that increase risk

  • Old age. As we age, our DNA has less ability to repair itself and there is a greater chance for genetic damage. Genetic damage can lead to cancer.
  • Race. Prostate cancer is more common among black men than white or Hispanic/Latino men. It's less common among Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American/Alaska Native men.
  • Family history. Your risk is higher if your father, brother, or son had prostate cancer.
  • Men with certain mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Men with BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA stands for BReast CAncer) gene mutations have an increased risk of prostate cancer. Men with BRCA1 mutations have a slightly increased risk, while men with BRCA2 mutations have about a 20 percent risk of developing prostate cancer during their life, usually before age 65.

Factors that decrease risk

Researchers are currently studying how prostate cancer may be prevented. Certain medications such as finasteride and dutasteride used to treat an enlarged prostate may help prevent prostate cancer. The risks and benefits of these medicines should be discussed with your risk assessment team.

In June 2003, the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial was stopped early because of a finding that Proscar (finasteride) reduced the risk of prostate cancer. However, those participants who did develop prostate cancer while taking Proscar experienced a slightly higher rate of aggressive tumors. Researchers reviewing the data have shown that because men taking Proscar have a reduced prostate size, this contributes to finding more aggressive tumors on tested tissues. Additionally, researchers also found that aggressive cancer was detected earlier and in a lower stage in the Proscar group than in the placebo group.

Inherited prostate cancer clues

The clues for an inherited risk of prostate cancer are:

  • Three or more first-degree relatives (father, brother, son) with prostate cancer
  • Prostate cancer in three generations on the same side of the family
  • Two or more close relatives (father, brother, son, grandfather, uncle, nephew) on the same side of the family diagnosed with prostate cancer younger than age 55