Family history of prostate cancer
There is prostate cancer in my family. How do I know if I am at risk?
There is research evidence that prostate cancer can run in families. If you have a father, brother or son diagnosed with prostate cancer your risk of prostate cancer is 2 to 3 times higher than men in the general population.
The age that your relative is diagnosed with prostate cancer affects how much the risk is increased. If they were diagnosed before the age of 60, this increases your risk by about 4 times the average. And if you have more than one first degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer (at any age) your risk is also about 4 times the average.
We know that there is a link in some families between prostate cancer and breast cancer. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, are also linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer. There is information about this, and about other possible risks and causes of prostate cancer in the prostate cancer section.
Currently there is a trial finding out about family history and risk of prostate cancer. You can find information about this and other prostate cancer trials on our clinical trials database. Choose 'prostate' from the dropdown list of cancer types.
It is important to remember that unlike many other cancers, prostate cancers are often present for years. This is because they are usually slowly growing and often don't cause any symptoms at all during a man's lifetime. By the age of 80, about 8 out of 10 men will have some cancer cells in their prostate, but only 1 in 25 of them will actually die from it.
On the other hand, some types of prostate cancer are faster growing and can spread to other parts of the body. At the moment, there is no single, effective screening test for early prostate cancer in healthy men. If you are worried that you may be at increased risk of prostate cancer, talk to your GP. They can refer you to a family cancer clinic if they think it is necessary.
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