You inherit many characteristics from your parents, from eye color to body size. As much as your parents influence how you appear on the outside, family genes also play a significant role in operations inside. More to the point, genetics play a role in many serious diseases, including cancer.
If your father had prostate cancer, you’re right to be investigating whether this might be a risk factor for you. Given that 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes, there are several different risk factors, and family genetics do play a role.
To expand on this prostate cancer connection, our team of men’s health experts here at Arizona Urology presents the following information.
The primary risk factors for prostate cancer
If you truly want to assess your risk for prostate cancer, it’s important to take a look at the whole picture, as there are several influential risk factors, including:
- Age — the average age of diagnosis is 66
- Race — 1 in 6 African American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer
- Inherited gene mutations
- Family history
Beyond these, there are some less direct connections to certain lifestyle factors, such as eating a diet heavy on fats and/or having obesity. Of course, these lifestyle factors negatively affect most health issues.
When prostate cancer is in the family
Now that we’ve painted the bigger picture when it comes to prostate cancer risks, let’s narrow our focus down to the family factor.
First, if you have a father or brother with prostate cancer, your risks of being diagnosed with prostate cancer double. Interestingly, this family effect is stronger if it’s your brother rather than your father.
Having several relatives with the diagnosis and having relatives who were diagnosed at an earlier age increases your risk for prostate cancer even further.
We want to linger on this age distinction for a moment. Far and away, the most significant risk factor for prostate cancer is age — the older you are, the more your risks increase. So, if a father was 70 when he was diagnosed, and the son grew up to be diagnosed at 67, there may be a connection, but there’s also a good chance that age was the bigger influence.
If a father is diagnosed in his 40s or 50s, however, this indicates that there may be a genetic mutation that favors prostate cancer, and the son may inherit this mutation, raising his risks considerably for a prostate cancer diagnosis.
One genetic mutation linked to prostate cancer that researchers have discovered is the same one that’s associated with reproductive cancers in women — the BRCA2.
The bottom line is that all men should be aware of their risks for prostate cancer, especially as they get older. If you have immediate family members with the disease, you should pay even closer attention.
To evaluate your risks and screen for prostate cancer, please contact one of our locations in Phoenix, Goodyear, Gilbert, or Glendale, Arizona, to schedule an appointment.