• Consumer Health: Are you at risk for prostate cancer?

a middle aged Black man sitting at a computer looking thoughtfully out a window

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which make this a good time to learn more about the risk factors for prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer will affect 1 in 8 men, according to the American Cancer Society. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the U.S.

The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland in males that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Many prostate cancers grow slowly and are confined to the prostate gland, where they may not cause serious harm. However, while some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.

Factors that can increase your risk of prostate cancer include:

  • Older age
    Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you age. It's most common after 50.
  • Race
    African American men are at greater risk of prostate cancer than men of other races, and their prostate cancer is more likely to be aggressive or advanced.
  • Family history
    If a blood relative, such as a parent, sibling or child, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk may be increased. Also, if you have a family history of genes that increase the risk of breast cancer ― BRCA1 or BRCA2 ― or a strong family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be higher.
  • Obesity
    Men who are obese may have a higher risk of prostate cancer, compared with men considered to have a healthy weight, though studies have had mixed results. In obese men, the cancer is more likely to be more aggressive and more likely to return after initial treatment.

If you're concerned about your risk, you may be interested in prostate cancer prevention. While there's no proven prevention strategy, you can reduce your risk of prostate cancer by making healthy choices regarding your diet, weight and exercise.

Connect with others talking about prostate cancer, screening and treatments in the Prostate Cancer support group on Mayo Clinic Connect, an online patient community moderated by Mayo Clinic.

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