A risk factor is any factor that is associated with increasing someone’s chances of developing a certain condition, such as cancer. Some risk factors are modifiable, such as lifestyle or environmental risk factors, and others cannot be modified, such as inherited factors or whether someone in the family has had cancer.
Having 1 or more risk factors does not mean that you will develop cancer. Many people have at least 1 risk factor but will never develop cancer, while others with cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a person with cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.
Factors that are associated with a higher risk of developing prostate cancer include:
- age: the risk of developing prostate cancer increases rapidly from age 50
- family history: men who have a father or brother with prostate cancer are more likely to develop it themselves
- changes in certain genes that can be carried in families: mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer in some men. People with a genetic condition called Lynch syndrome (also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer or HNPCC) also have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
Find out more about:
- Lifestyle and risk reduction
- Position Statement on Lifestyle risk factors and the primary prevention of cancer