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Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

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Family History | Race | Age | Other

Family History
  • Approximately 1 out of every 10 men diagnosed with prostate cancer will be a member of a family with hereditary prostate cancer
  • If a man has 1 close relative with prostate cancer, his risk is 2x as high as the general population to develop prostate cancer
  • 2 close relatives and his risk is increased by 5x
  • 3 or more close relatives and risk is 11x higher.
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Reference: Wake Forest University Prostate Cancer Genetics Study (20KB-PDF)

Studies based at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (WFUBMC) have provided useful summaries of the hereditary and genetic risk factors associated with the disease. Please use the WFUBMC tip sheet for talking to your family about prostate cancer.
  • African American men have the highest rate of prostate cancer incidence in the world.
  • The national mortality rate for black men is 2.5 times the rate for white men.
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According to Dr. Judd W. Moul, MD, FACS, Head of Urology at Duke University Medical Center and former Director of the Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR), a Uniformed Services University and Department of Defense program in Rockville, MD, Prostate Cancer is a particular concern for African-American men because their is a higher risk of developing prostate cancer at an earlier age than white men.

It was thought that African-American men were prone to develop a more biologically aggressive cancer than white men. "Our data do not support that theory," he says. "With earlier detection, African-American men and white men have basically the same outcome."


The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, rising rapidly after age 50.

"One day, when men are started on PSA testing at age 40 (and 35 if family history of prostate or breast cancer), we will see virtually no men presenting with other than T1c PC, and no men or very few presenting with PSA levels greater than 5 or 6. What amazes me is that all of you out there that are now "empowered" are not yelling and screaming (like the AIDS patients did) to make changes that will empty the hospitals of dying PC patients, just the way they did to empty the hospital AIDS units of dying men and women and children with HIV. You have the power and the ability but do not see the resolution of the problem."

--Stephen B. Strum, MD.

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Recent studies are further highlighting the role of obesity in regard to risk.
Environmental exposure sexual activity and diet are also being investigated as possible risk factors.
For more information visit National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Urological Association (AUA) websites.

The PCCNC is a 501c3 non-profit. We welcome charitable donations.

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Prostate Cancer Coalition of North Carolina (PCCNC)
5905 Shamrock Road
Research Triangle Park, NC 27713