Know the Facts about Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men. While it is rare in men under age 50, the risk for prostate cancer increases as men age, with approximately one in nine men diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. In 2022, more than 260,000 men are estimated to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for many cancers include smoking, being overweight, poor diet, and not getting enough exercise. While the causes of prostate cancer are unknown, risk factors may include the following:

  • Age
  • Family history of prostate cancer
  • Race: African-American men have a higher rate of prostate cancer than white men.
  • A diet high in dairy foods and calcium

Certain vitamins and hormones may also play a role in the development of prostate cancer.

Screening and Treatment

While there is no standard screening test for prostate cancer, two tests often used are the digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. PSA levels may be high in men with prostate cancer but can also be caused by other prostate problems. Screening for prostate cancer does have risks, such as inaccurate results, complications from follow-up tests, and possible over-treatment. Finding and treating prostate cancer may not improve a man’s health or increase lifespan. For these reasons, men should discuss with their doctors their risk for prostate cancer and the pros and cons of screening tests.