What Are the Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer?

  • Age: Your risk of getting prostate cancer increases as you get older.
  • Family medical history: In about 5-10% of all cases, prostate cancer is caused by a gene mutation (abnormal gene) that is inherited, or passed along from generation to generation. If members of your family have had prostate, breast, ovarian, colon and/or pancreatic cancer — especially close relatives, such as a father or mother, brothers or sisters — you may be at higher risk. If more than one of your close relatives (father, brother or son) developed prostate cancer before age 60 or 65, you and your physician should discuss whether you should begin early-detection testing for prostate cancer beginning at age 40.  Learn about genetic screening for prostate cancer and our Clinical Genetics Service at Roswell Park.
  • Race: African-American men have a higher risk than white men of developing and dying of prostate cancer. African-American men should speak with their physicians about the pros and cons of early-detection testing for prostate cancer beginning at age 40.
  • Exposure to Agent Orange: Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during military service are at increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Agent Orange also decreases the chance of a cure.
  • Obesity: Overweight has been shown to increase the risk of prostate cancer.
  • An unhealthy diet: Eating foods high in fat, or red meat that is charred (burned/blackened), and not eating enough fruits and vegetables, raises the risk of prostate cancer.