Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How common is prostate cancer?"
My uncle had it but I don't really understand if this puts me at a greater risk. Shouljd I be worried about this?
Prostate cancer is very common, the most common type of cancer among men if non-melanoma skin cancers (which are very infrequently life-threatening) are not counted. Over 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year in the US, and around 30,000 men die each year in the US from prostate cancer. Over the course of the entire life span, one in six men will develop prostate cancer.
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Although an individual's risks can only be properly estimated by an in-person full consultation with a physician, your family history of prostate cancer puts you at approximately a twofold increased risk of prostate cancer as compared to the general population. The single greatest risk factor for prostate cancer is age, with increasing risk of cancer as individuals get older. There are screening tests available for prostate cancer, including a digital rectal exam and prostate-specific antigen blood test (PSA), but there are no current firm recommendations about whether or not these tests are useful - this is because prostate cancer can be very slow-growing and does not necessarily require treatment, particularly among older individuals, and the surgeries to remove prostate cancer are associated with significant risk. The decision whether or not to screen for prostate cancer, and when to begin screening, is one that can only be made during an in-person consultation with a physician. I suggest you make an appointment with your primary care doctor to discuss the risks and benefits of screening given your individual circumstances.
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