A risk factor is any factor that is associated with increasing someone’s chances of developing a certain condition, such as cancer. Some risk factors are modifiable, such as lifestyle or environmental risk factors. Others cannot be modified, such as inherited factors or whether someone in the family has had cancer.
Having one or more risk factors does not mean that you will develop cancer. Many people have at least one risk factor but will never develop cancer, while others with cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a person with cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.
Factors that are associated with a higher risk of developing prostate cancer include:
- age: the risk of developing prostate cancer increases rapidly from age 50; it is most commonly diagnosed in people aged between 60 and 79
- family history: those who have a father or brother with prostate cancer who were diagnosed before the age of 60, or who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, are more likely to develop prostate cancer
- changes in certain genes that can be carried in families: inherited mutations in certain genes, such as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer in some people. People with a genetic condition called Lynch syndrome (also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer or HNPCC) also have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
Find out more
- Lifestyle and risk reduction
- Position statement on lifestyle risk factors and the primary prevention of cancer.
- American Cancer Society . Prostate cancer https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer.html.