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Am I At Risk for Prostate Cancer?

Three generations of African-American men smiling at the camera

There is really no way to know for sure if you're going to get prostate cancer. Certain factors can make you more likely to get it than another person. These are called risk factors. However, just because you have one or more risk factors doesn't necessarily mean you will get prostate cancer. In fact, you can have many risk factors and still not get prostate cancer, or you can have few or no known risk factors and still get it.

Some factors put you at high risk for prostate cancer. Other factors can also increase your risk. And some factors are still being investigated and may or may not increase your risk. This section explains some of these factors.

Who's at high risk for prostate cancer?

Some factors put you at high risk for prostate cancer. If you agree with either of these statements, you're at high risk, according to the American Cancer Society:

I'm African-American

African-American men are more at risk for getting prostate cancer than white men. You're especially at risk if your relatives are from sub-Saharan Africa.

My father, brother, or son had prostate cancer

These men are considered your first-degree relatives. The fact that they've had prostate cancer makes your risk higher. In some families, certain genetic mutations may increase the risk for prostate cancer.

Who could have an increased risk?

Other factors increase your risk for prostate cancer. Some are out of your control, such as your age or family history. However, some risk factors--such as the types of food you eat--are factors you can control.

If you agree with either of the statements below, you may be at increased risk for prostate cancer. 

I am 55 or older

The older you get, the more at risk you are for getting prostate cancer. About 90 percent of diagnoses are made in men ages 55 and older. The average age of diagnosis is 67.

I eat a lot of red meat and/or dairy products

Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. It's not clear which of these factors might be responsible for raising the risk.