Most prostate cancers don’t have a genetic link. However, in a small percentage of causes, certain mutations like those in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene can increase your risk.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. About
Most cases of prostate cancer develop in men without a family history, but a small percentage of prostate cancers have been linked to inherited genes. According to the
The risk is higher if you have a brother with prostate cancer than a father. The risk is highest if you have several relatives affected, especially if they developed prostate cancer at a young age.
In this article, we take a closer look at how genetics relate to the development of prostate cancer.
In this article, we talk about the genetic risks of prostate cancer in people assigned male at birth.
It’s important to note that not everyone assigned male at birth identifies with the label “men.” However, at times we use “men” or “male” to reflect the language in a study or statistic, or to make sure people can find this article with the terms they search.
When possible, we aim to be inclusive and create content that reflects the diversity of our readers.
Estimates on the number of prostate cancers that are hereditary vary depending on how hereditary prostate cancer is defined.
One proposed definition for hereditary prostate cancer called the
- You have three or more first-degree relatives with prostate cancer, which includes children, parents, or brothers.
- You have prostate cancer in three generations on either your mother’s or father’s side of the family.
- You have at least two relatives with a diagnosis of prostate cancer before age 55.
Using these criteria, about
Genes linked to prostate cancer
The odds of a man developing prostate cancer in his life is about 11%, but certain mutations like those in the BRCA2 and HOXB13 genes can potentially raise your risk by as much as
Mutations in BRCA genes are seen in about
According to the authors of a
- have a high incidence of prostate cancer
- receive a diagnosis at a younger age
- are more likely to have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis
Other cancers linked to BRCA1 and BRCA2mutations
Other mutations linked to prostate cancer
Mutations in the following genes have also been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer:
Mutations in these genes are called Lynch syndrome.
Lynch syndrome has also been linked (across all sexes) to an increased risk of developing the following cancers before age
- colorectal cancer
- uterine cancer
- ovarian cancer
- bladder cancer
- stomach cancer
- small intestines cancer
- pancreatic cancer
- brain cancer
Risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- Age: Most men are over the age of 50 when they receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
- Race: African American men have about
twicethe risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer as other men in the United States.
- Diet: According to the
ACS, some research suggests a diet high in dairy may slightly increase your risk of prostate cancer.
- Obesity: Some research suggests obesity may be linked to a higher risk of advanced prostate cancer or dying from prostate cancer. However, being obese
doesn’t seemto increase your overall risk.
- Chemical exposure: Firefighters exposed to certain chemicals may be at an increased risk of prostate cancer. Some research suggests a potential link between prostate cancer and Agent Orange exposure, although a definitive link hasn’t been found.
Most of the time, doctors don’t know what causes prostate cancer. You can’t always prevent prostate cancers, and some risk factors are out of your control.
Research is mixed about whether being overweight or consuming a very high calcium diet increases your risk of prostate cancer. According to the
- get to and maintain a moderate weight
- stay physically active throughout your life
- eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables
Learn more about preventing prostate cancer.
Screening for prostate cancer in high risk people
If you carry genes associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer, regular screening may give you a better chance of detecting cancer in the early stages and treating it before it spreads.
The chances of a man with early stage prostate cancer surviving at least 5 years are about
Doctors usually screen for prostate cancer by measuring levels of an enzyme called prostate specific antigen (PSA) with a blood test or by performing a digital rectal exam.
Learn more about prostate cancer screening.
When to begin screening for prostate cancer
There are various schools of thought on when to start prostate cancer screening, but the consensus is that all men should first have an in-depth conversation with their doctors about the risks and benefits of screening.
- age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer (and expected to live at least 10 more years)
- age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer (including African Americans and men with a father or brother with a diagnosis of prostate cancer before the age of 65)
- age 40 for men with more than one first-degree relative (father or brother) with a diagnosis of prostate cancer before the age of 65
What age are you most likely to get prostate cancer?
Where do most prostate cancers originate?
Can you live without a prostate?
You can live without a prostate, but some men experience problems after surgery like urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction. It’s generally recommended to store sperm in a sperm bank if you still plan on having children.
How can I test to see if I have a gene mutation linked to prostate cancer?
You can test to see if you have a genetic mutation linked to prostate cancer by taking a blood or urine test.
The majority of prostate cancers aren’t linked to genetic factors. Mutations in some genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2 are linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer in a small percentage of cases.
You can find out if you carry genes associated with prostate cancer with a blood or urine test. If you do have genes associated with prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend starting screening at a younger age.