What Age Does Prostate Cancer Risk Increase? Risk Factors

Medically Reviewed on 6/28/2022
What Age Does Prostate Cancer Risk Increase
The risk of developing prostate cancer increases rapidly after age 50

Prostate cancer risk increases with age, especially after age 50. Most prostate cancers are diagnosed between the ages of 65-69. Prostate cancer is rare before age 40, although it can still happen.

Men aged 65 years and older account for about two-thirds of all prostate cancer cases. However, as you get older, the disease becomes less aggressive, especially at about age 70. 

If you are older than 45 and have a high risk of prostate cancer due to a family history of the disease or other factors, or if you are older than 50 and worried about prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer screenings.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer starts in the prostate gland and is the most diagnosed cancer in men after skin cancer.

Cancer is a disease that starts in cells, which are the basic components of all body tissue and organs, including the prostate. Normally, cells proliferate, grow, and die on a regular basis. When something goes wrong with this process, the cells do not die as expected and instead develop into a tumor. Tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Prostate cancer has the potential to spread to the bone, other organs, and lymphatic system. Prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is known as metastatic prostate cancer. If prostate cancer spreads metastasizes to the bone, the cells in the bone are prostate cancer cells, not bone cancer cells.

Who is at a risk for prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer affects roughly 13% of American men at some point in their lives, with 2%-3% of cases leading to death. Risk factors for prostate cancer include the following:

  • Age: As men age, their risk of prostate cancer increases considerably.
    • Prostate cancer risk begins to increase sharply after 55 years and peaks at 70 to 74 years, declining slightly thereafter. 
    • About 60% of prostate cancer is diagnosed in men older than 65 years. That is why it is important to talk with your doctor about prostate-specific antigen screening for prostate cancer as you enter middle age.
    • However, there are cases of prostate cancer in men in their 20s and 30s, some of which have been very aggressive. 
  • Family history: Your risk of prostate cancer is higher if you have a close relative, such as a brother or father, who had prostate cancer.
    • Some inherited genes can make you more likely to develop prostate cancer. These inherited genes are rare, however, and only a small percentage of prostate tumors are caused by them.
    • In men with the BRCA gene mutation, the risk of prostate cancer is higher. Breast cancer and ovarian cancer are also caused by these genes.
    • Lynch syndrome is a rare genetic condition that increases the risk of prostate cancer and other types of cancer in men. This syndrome is caused by a mutation in one of the genes that corrects DNA errors, such as MSH2 and MLH1 genes.
  • Ethnicity: Prostate cancer is more common in African American men than Caucasian men. It is least common in Asian men. 
  • Obesity: Men who are obese may have a higher risk of prostate cancer, although studies have reported mixed results. In obese men, cancer is more likely to be aggressive and more likely to return after initial treatment.
  • Chemical exposure: Prostate cancer risk and severity can be increased by chemical and defoliant exposure.
    • Prostate cancer is more common in Vietnam and Korean War veterans who were exposed to defoliants such as Agent Orange.
    • Men who have been in the military are roughly two times as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who have never served.
    • Farmers and other men who work with a huge amount of pesticides are at a high risk of prostate cancer.
    • Those who are frequently exposed to metal cadmium such as welders, battery manufacturers, and rubber workers are abnormally vulnerable to prostate cancer.
    • There is evidence that firemen are also at increased risk of prostate cancer.
  • Hormone levels: Hormone levels could play a role in the development of prostate cancer.
    • The hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is produced by human bodies. It controls the regular growth and death of cells.
    • According to several studies, having a high level of IGF-1 in the body increases the risk of prostate cancer. 
  • Smoking: Male smokers have been shown to have a higher amount of circulating androsterone and testosterone, which could increase prostate cancer risk or contribute to cancer development.
  • Diet: Diet and lifestyle may affect the risk of prostate cancer. Your risk may be higher if you eat a diet high in calories, animal fats, and refined sugar, and not enough fruits and vegetables. Lack of exercise is also linked to poor outcomes.

What are the survival rates for prostate cancer?

Because prostate cancer tends to grow slowly, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer die from something other than the disease. 

Early detection is key to better outcomes. The 5-year survival rate for localized cancer that hasn’t spread outside of the prostate is 97%-98%. When the cancer has spread outside of the gland, the 5-year survival rate is about 33%.


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Medically Reviewed on 6/28/2022
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