Prostate Cancer

Risk Factors

Scientists don't know exactly what causes prostate cancer. They cannot explain why one man gets prostate cancer and another does not. However, they have been able to identify some risk factors that are associated with the disease. A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease.


Age is the most important risk factor for prostate cancer. The disease is extremely rare in men under age 40, but the risk increases greatly with age. More than 60 percent of cases are diagnosed in men over age 65. The average age at the time of diagnosis is 65.


Race is another major risk factor. In the United States, this disease is much more common in African American men than in any other group of men. It is least common in Asian and American Indian men.

(Watch the video to learn more about African American men and prostate cancer. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)

Family History

A man's risk for developing prostate cancer is higher if his father or brother has had the disease.

Other Risk Factors?

Scientists have wondered whether obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, radiation exposure, might increase risk. But at this time, there is no firm evidence that these factors contribute to an increased risk.