Who is at risk of prostate cancer?

March is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. In recognition of this, Check4Cancer is sharing a series of blogs exploring the WHO, WHAT, WHY and HOW of prostate cancer. In our first blog, we explore the question: who is at risk of prostate cancer?

In the UK, about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime1, and it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men in the UK. Although the exact cause is unknown, there are several risk factors that can increase your chances of getting prostate cancer. The three main risk factors are age, family history and ethnicity.

1. Age
Age is by far the most significant risk factor for prostate cancer. The condition mostly affects men over the age of 50, and the risk increases as you get older, with the most common occurrence in men over the age of 70. Recently, there has been a 6-fold increase in men aged 40-59 being diagnosed with prostate cancer – this is partly due to the introduction of PSA tests for prostate cancer screening which can detect cancer before symptoms appear.

2. Family history
If people in your family have prostate cancer, it can mean you have a higher risk of getting the disease. This may be because you have inherited genetic mutations that can cause cancer. The risks are higher for men with direct relatives who have suffered with the illness, such as fathers, brothers or sons, as well as second degree relatives, such as uncles, nephews, grandfathers, half-brothers etc. The family history association isn’t confined to male relatives; men whose mothers have had breast cancer are also at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, especially if the breast cancer is caused by a mutation in one of the BRCA genes.

3. Ethnicity
Black African or African-Caribbean men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men. The reason for this is unknown, although it might be linked to genetics. According to research published in BMC Med, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is approximately 1 in 8 for White men, 1 in 4 for Black men and 1 in 13 for Asian men2.

Unlike many other cancers, there are no lifestyle risk factors currenty associated with prostate cancer.

What should you do if you think you might be at risk of prostate cancer? Currently, there’s no NHS screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK. However, private prostate cancer screening tests are available – Check4Cancer offers PSACheck, a safe, accurate and affordable prostate cancer screening test for men aged 40+. Our team of specialists will analyse your PSA test results and risk factors to determine what the next stage is for you. Remember that you can develop prostate cancer at any age, so if you are worried about symptoms, you should make an appointment to see your GP. Find out more about prostate cancer here.


1 in 8 men


1 - https://prostatecanceruk.org/prostate-information/are-you-at-risk
2 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26224061