Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. According to the American Cancer Society, 268,490 cases are estimated to be diagnosed in 2022. Additionally, 34,500 deaths from the cancer are estimated. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death behind lung cancer for American men. Just as it is with other types of cancer, prostate cancer has a greater chance of developing in some people than others. While some risk factors are ones that may be able to be modified along the way, other risk factors are connected to genetics and thus cannot be altered. According to the CDC, out of every 100 American men, it is estimated 13 will get prostate cancer. Additionally, of those 13, two to three men die from prostate cancer. If you are curious as to which people are at greater risk of getting prostate cancer, here are some facts to keep in mind.

Your Age

Studies indicate that the most common risk factor for prostate cancer is age. The older the man, the higher the likelihood of getting prostate cancer. If you are a man who is younger than age 40, you are at a smaller risk of developing prostate cancer. However, once you reach age 50, you stand a much greater chance of getting prostate cancer. The risk continues to increase to age 65, where nearly six in 10 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed. For this reason, it’s ideal that you start getting screened when your doctor recommends it. 

Your Race or Ethnicity

When it comes to prostate cancer and its relation to race or ethnicity, studies have shown that African-American men tend to develop prostate cancer at rates higher than Caucasian men. Also, African-American men who develop prostate cancer also tend to do so at younger ages and are more likely to die from it. In Asian-American and Hispanic-American men, rates of prostate cancer are rather low, although the reason for this remains unclear. There have been many studies about the effects of getting screened for prostate cancer and it is unlikely this is related to race or ethnicity.

Family History

If you have a history of prostate cancer within your family, especially when your father or a brother has had the disease, this more than doubles the chances you may at some point develop prostate cancer. It may be helpful to talk to your family regarding their experience with prostate cancer in case they didn’t think to share that with you. Though prostate cancer does tend to run in certain families, you should also keep in mind that most diagnosed cases of prostate cancer occur in patients who have had no family history of this type of cancer. This is typically related to exposure to certain radiation and possibly diet.

Diet Factors

Though research is still unclear overall about the effect that diet has on someone’s chance of getting prostate cancer,  doctors do generally believe that certain lifestyle factors play a role in who does or does not get prostate cancer. For example, patients who have eaten a diet high in fat and dairy products may be at higher risk for prostate cancer. Also, men who are obese are thought to be more at risk of developing aggressive forms of prostate cancer, not having it discovered until it is in its advanced stages, and dying from the disease. For this reason, many doctors recommend that you maintain a healthy diet with low fat and low dairy food. If needed, exercise may also be prescribed to decrease your likelihood of becoming obese and thus, decreasing your cancer of getting prostate cancer. That being said, exercise and a healthy diet can have more positive effects than just decreasing your chances of getting prostate cancer.

Other Factors

The more quickly prostate cells grow and divide, the more likely they are to become cancerous. Because of this, there are some considerations such as excessive androgens such as testosterone promoting cell growth and may be a contributing factor to prostate cancer risks in some men. Additionally, research suggests that men with high levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) are more likely to get prostate cancer. Other things such as exposure to radiation may also cause the DNA mutations, which may lead to prostate cancer.

Like almost all forms of cancer, there are often some changes you can make to your lifestyle that may reduce your risk of developing the disease. If you have cause for concern or want to get screened for this cancer, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

Early detection can be a determining factor in whether or not you are able to survive prostate cancer. It can often be found early by testing for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in a man’s blood. Another way to find the cancer is through a digital rectal exam (DRE). Neither test provides 100% accurate results. This means it is possible to get a false positive or false-negative result. Neither of these results are ideal as they may have negative effects so it is important to communicate with your doctor throughout the process. When it comes to insurance coverage, most states require private health insurers to cover tests such as PSA and DRE for men over ages 50 and for high-risk men over 40 years of age. 

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