Can prostate cancer be prevented?
More than 100 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every day in the UK, making it the most common cancer in men. In 2013, 47,189 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed, of which about 20 per cent were advanced prostate cancer.
Scientists now estimate that one in 11 cases of advanced prostate cancer in the UK could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight.
What is prostate cancer?
The prostate is a gland that is only found in men. It is about the size of a walnut and is found beneath the bladder.
The prostate makes fluid that protects the urethra (the tube that carries urine and sperm out of the body) and helps sperm survive.
Prostate cancer develops when a cell in the prostate gland gets damaged and starts to grow in an uncontrolled way.
Who is most at risk of prostate cancer?
As with all cancers, the risk of developing prostate cancer depends on a number of factors and varies from person to person. About three out of every four cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in men aged 65 and over. These are some of the most important factors.
There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of advanced prostate cancers, including aggressive prostate cancers, which can be fatal.
Men under the age of 50 have a very low risk of prostate cancer. The risk increases as you get older. Most men in their 80s will have some degree of prostate cancer, but it is often not life-limiting.
- Family history
Your risk is higher if you have a close relative (for example, your father, brother or uncle) who has been affected by the disease. There is also evidence which shows that having a close female relative (for example, your mother) who has had breast cancer can increase your risk. Experts believe that around 5–9 per cent of prostate cancer cases are linked to genes or family history.
Men of African-Caribbean or African descent have a higher risk of prostate cancer than white men. Asian and Chinese men have a lower risk than white men.
How can you reduce your risk of prostate cancer?
The most up-to-date research shows that if you are overweight or obese you are at greater risk of advanced prostate cancer. To find out if you’re a healthy weight for your height, check your Body Mass Index (BMI) using our BMI calculator.
Visit NHS Choices to find out about the symptoms and treatment of prostate cancer.
- Be a healthy weight
- Our cancer prevention recommendations
- BMI calculator
- What can increase your risk of cancer?