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Prostate cancer screening recommendations

Affecting one out of every six men, prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in American men. It can begin as a tumor in the prostate gland and spread.

About half of the risk of prostate cancer can be attributed to genetic factors. There is no single gene that puts you at risk; rather, there appears to be multiple inherited genetic variants that contribute slightly to risk. These, combined with environmental factors, lead to prostate cancer.

Other factors that increase your risk for developing prostate cancer are:

  • Age. The disease most often affects men over age 50 and risk increases after this age.
  • Family history. Studies have shown that your risk of developing prostate cancer is doubled if your father or brother has the disease and further increased if multiple members of your family are affected.
  • Lifestyle. Men who eat a Western diet are at higher risk. We recommend:
    • a healthful diet low in carbohydrates;
    • avoiding excess fat;
    • a diet including fruit with fiber and vegetables (a good example is the Mediterranean diet).
    You should also exercise to main a low body mass index.
  • Race. The disease is about twice as common in African-American men as it is in Caucasian men.

Screening recommendations

Ages 18-40: Usually not required.

Ages 40-49: You should discuss your risk level with your physician. Screening is recommended if you are considered high risk, including if you are African-American or have a family history of prostate cancer. This includes prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, a test that measures the blood level of PSA, a protein that is produced by the prostate gland.

Ages 50+: You should discuss screening with your physician.

Related links

Observation is safe, cost-saving in low-risk prostate cancer 

Progress and promise in prostate cancer research 

Some men voice complaints of shortened penis following prostate cancer treatment 

Researchers find culprit in castration-resistant prostate cancer 

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