Am I at risk for prostate cancer if it runs in my family?

Family history is one of the most important risk factors for prostate cancer. This Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, ask your GP about prostate health because getting your prostate checked is an essential medical to-do.

Researchers do not precisely know what causes prostate cancer. However, on the most basic level, there is a higher chance of developing prostate cancer if someone has a first-degree family member or members diagnosed with the disease too.  

From a medical perspective, it is pretty understandable because genetics do pass down the chances of developing many forms of cancer

Just as how breast cancer runs in families, prostate cancer runs in families too. So, the answer to the question is – if someone in your family has been diagnosed with prostate cancer before, then you already have an inherited risk too. 

In case it’s your father or your brother, the risk is already two and a half times (2.5 times) for you.

Not just that, the risk for prostate cancer is five-fold if you have two or more close male relatives being diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

The chances of getting prostate cancer may be even higher if your father or your brother was under 60 at the time of diagnosis

And did you know that prostate cancer can strike without any symptoms? 

Diagram showing tumour growing in prostate glands, causing variety of urinary issues

Essentially helping to enrich semen, cancer in your prostate glands will rarely produce any apparent symptoms. 

You won’t feel any symptoms of a growing prostate tumour, let alone pain. It is possible that someone can have this disease for years without even knowing it. 

This mandates a regular screening for prostate cancer, at least for those men at risk. 

Beware of the early warning signs of Prostate Cancer 

Most early symptoms of prostate cancer are more or less around a variety of urinary issues because of its proximity to the bladder and the urethra. 

Keep an eye on for; 

  • Feeling pain or burning sensation during urination 
  • Difficulty in starting and stopping while urinating 
  • Urge to urinate more often at night 
  • Sudden erectile dysfunction 
  • Blood in urine or semen 
  • Painful ejaculation

But, most often, Prostate Cancer is diagnosed out of the blue.

Despite its high prevalence in Australia, prostate cancer is often caught out of the blue. Because no one will likely think they’re at risk unless they have a first-degree relative diagnosed with the same disease. 

But, prostate cancer can happen to anyone. 

A good indicator of possible cancer is a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test that can tell how significant your risks are. 

At the same time, a high PSA score won’t necessarily indicate prostate cancer because even an inflamed prostate can drive up the scores. 

Your GP will monitor your risk based on your PSA score over a period of time. If your score is on the rise, they’ll advise further treatment and diagnosis. 

What are the further tests for prostate cancer? 

In the event of a higher PSA score, your GP will refer you to a urologist, who will likely conduct a biopsy to determine prostate cancer. 

One of the most important things to remember is that neither one single test can differentiate between a fast or slow-growing tumour, nor can someone predict the prognosis in terms of how severe it can be

A total diagnosis of prostate cancer is only possible with a combination of tests, such as an MRI Scan, pelvic lymph node dissection, and a bone scan. 

Importantly, we suggest ‘active surveillance’

An older man booking an appointment for a regular prostate cancer screening with Inkerman Medical Group

Ask your GP for risk analysis and advice on how often would you need a screening test. 

Consider getting tested at the age of 40.  

Ensure, you’re aware of your health and if you notice any early warning signs, speak to a doctor immediately.   

For any concerns, ask us. 

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