Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that may increase a person's chance of developing a disease.

It may be a behavior such as smoking or diet, or it may be an issue that one cannot control, such as family history, race, or age.

Although risk  factors can increase a person's risk of developing a disease, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some people with risk factors never develop cancer, while others develop cancer and have no known risk factors.

In general, all men are at risk for prostate cancer, but there are specific risk factors that increase the likelihood that certain men will develop the disease.  These include the following:

  • Age: Men age 50 and older are more likely than younger men to develop the disease. More than 75 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65.
  • Race: Prostate cancer is nearly twice as common among African-American men than it is among white American men, and survival rates are lower among African Americans.
  • Diet: Studies suggest that men whose diets contain a lot of fat have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer.
  • Family history of prostate cancer: Having a father or brother with prostate cancer doubles a man's risk of developing the disease.  The risk is even higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if the relatives were young at the time of their diagnosis.