Am I at risk?

In the UK, about 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives. Older men, men with a family history of prostate cancer and black men are more at risk. If you are worried about your risk, or are experiencing any symptoms, go and see your GP. They can talk to you about your risk, and about the tests that are used to diagnose prostate cancer.

See and share our infographic on prostate cancer risk


Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and your risk increases with age. The average age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65 and 69 years. If you are under 50, your risk of getting prostate cancer is very low. Men under 50 can get it, but it isn’t common.

If you're over 50 and you're worried about your risk of prostate cancer, you might want to ask your GP about tests for prostate cancer. If you're over 45 but have a higher risk of prostate cancer – because you have a family history of it or you're a black man – you might want to talk to your GP too.

Family history and genes

Inside every cell in our body is a set of instructions called genes. These are inherited from our parents. Genes control how the body grows, works and what it looks like. If something goes wrong with one or more genes (known as a fault or mutation), it can sometimes cause cancer.

  • You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has had it, compared to a man who has no relatives with prostate cancer.
  • Your chance of getting prostate cancer may be greater if your father or brother was under 60 when he was diagnosed, or if you have more than one close relative with prostate cancer.
  • You may have a higher risk of prostate cancer if your mother or sister has had breast cancer, particularly if they were diagnosed under the age of 60 and had faults in genes called BRCA1 or BRCA2. 

If you have relatives with prostate cancer or breast cancer and are worried about your risk, speak to your GP. Although your risk of prostate cancer may be higher, it doesn’t mean you will get it.

Learn more about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene faults

Black men

Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men. We don’t know why, but it might be linked to genes. In the UK, about 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

If you're a black man and you're over 45, speak to your GP about your risk of prostate cancer. You can also contact our Specialist Nurses.

Read more about the risk in black men.

Body weight

No one knows how to prevent prostate cancer, but staying a healthy weight may be important. Research shows that being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting cancer that’s more likely to spread (called aggressive) or advanced prostate cancer (cancer that has spread outside the prostate).

Help improve our page

We'd like to ask you two questions about our page.


Updated: January 2015 | To be reviewed: January 2017

  • References  

    • Allen NE, Key TJ, Appleby PN, et al. Animal foods, protein, calcium and prostate cancer risk: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Br J Cancer 2008;98(9):1574-81.
    • World Cancer Research Fund International. Continuous Update Project report: Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Prostate Cancer. 2014. Available from:
    • Arab L, Su J, Steck SE, et al. Adherence to World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research Lifestyle Recommendations Reduces Prostate Cancer Aggressiveness Among African and Caucasian Americans. Nutrition and Cancer 2013;65(5)633-43.
    • Brede CM, Shoskes DA. The etiology and management of acute prostatitis. Nat Rev Urol 2011;8:207–12.
    • Burford DC, Kirby M, Austoker J. Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme information for primary care; PSA testing in asymptomatic men. NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, 2009.
    • Cao Y, Ma J. Body Mass Index, Prostate Cancer-Specific Mortality, and Biochemical Recurrence: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa). 2011 Jan 13;4(4):486–501.
    • Castro E, Eeles R. The role of BRAC1 and BRAC2 in prostate cancer. Asian J Androl 2012;14(3):409-14.
    • Clearinghouse TNNK and UDI. Prostatitis: Disorders of the Prostate [Internet]. [cited 2013 Sep 11].
    • Colin SM, Metcalfe C, Donovan J, et al. Associations of lower urinary tract symptoms with prostate-specific antigen levels, and screen detected localized and advanced prostate cancer: a case-control study nested within the UK based population ProtecT (Prostate testing for cancer and Treatment) study. BJU Int 2008;102(10):1400-140.
    • Crawford ED. Understanding the Epidemiology, Natural History and Key Pathways Involved in Prostate Cancer. 2009 Urology; 73:5A
    • Discacciati A, Orsini N, Wolk A. Body mass index and incidence of localized and advanced prostate cancer - a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Ann Oncol. 2012 Jan 6;23(7):1665–71.
    • Gacci M, Eardley I, Giuliano F, et al. Critical analysis of the relationship between sexual dysfunction and lower urinary tract symptoms due to benign prostatic hyperplasia. Eur Urol 2011;60(4):809-25.
    • Gao X, LaValley MP, Tucker KL. Prospective studies of dairy product and calcium intakes and prostate cancer risk: A meta-analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst 2005;97(23):1768-77.
    • Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Platz EA, et al. Risk factors for prostate cancer incidence and progression in the health professionals follow-up study. Int J Cancer 2007;121(7):1571-8.
    • Ho T, Gerber L, Aronson WJ, et al. Obesity, Prostate-Specific Antigen Nadir, and Biochemical Recurrence After Radical Prostatectomy: Biology or Technique? Results from the SEARCH Database. Eur Urol. 2012;62(5):910–6.
    • Johns LE, Houlston RS. A systematic review and meta-analysis of familial prostate cancer risk. BJU Int 2003;91:789-94.
    • Kirby M, Chapple C, Jackson G, et al. Erectile dysfunction and lower urinary tract symptoms: a consensus on the importance of co-diagnosis. Int J Clin Pract 2013;67(7):606-18.
    • Lloyd T, Hounsome L, Mehay A, Mee S, Verne J, Cooper A. Lifetime risk of being diagnosed with, or dying from, prostate cancer by major ethnic group in England 2008–2010. BMC Med. 2015 Jul 30;13(1):171
    • Lifetime risk of cancer. Cancer Research UK. 2010. Available from:
    • Ma RW, Chapman K. A systematic review of the effect of diet in prostate cancer prevention and treatment. J Human Nutrition and Dietetics 2009;22(3):187-99.
    • McNaughton-Collins M, Joyce GF, Wise M, Pontari MA. Prostatitis. In: Litwin MS, Saigal CS, editors. Urologic Diseases in America. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Publishing Office, 2007; NIH Publication No. 07-5512 pp. 9-42.
    • McPherson K, Steel CM, Dixon JM. ABC of Breast Diseases. Breast cancer: epidemiology, risk factors and genetics. BMJ 2000;321:624–8.
    • Mitra AV, Bancroft EK, Barbachano Y, et al Targeted prostate cancer screening in men with mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 detects aggressive prostate cancer: preliminary analysis of the results of the IMPACT study. BJU Int 2010;107:28-39.
    • Mottet N, Bastian PJ, Bellmunt J, et al. Guidelines on prostate cancer. European Association of Urology. April 2014
    • NICE. Guideline for management of lower urinary tract symptoms in men. NICE Clinical guideline 97. May 2010.
    • Orsini N, Bellocco R, Bottai M, et al. A prospective study of lifetime physical activity and prostate cancer incidence and mortality. Br J Cancer 2009;101(11):1932-8.
    • Popiolek M, et al. Natural History of Early, Localized Prostate Cancer: A Final Report from Three Decades of Follow-up. Eur Urol 2012.
    • Popiolek M, Rider JR, Andren O, et al. Natural history of early, localized prostate cancer: A final report from three decades of follow-up. Eur Urol 2013;63(3):42835.
    • Prostate cancer incidence statistics. Cancer Research UK. 2011
    • Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme information for primary care; PSA testing in asymptomatic men. Evidence document January 2010.
    • Prostate cancer: diagnosis and treatment. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). January 2014. Clinical guideline 175.
    • Roehrborn CG. BPH progression: concept and key learning from MTOPS, ALTESS, COMBAT, and ALF-ONE. BJU Int 2008;101(3):17-21.
    • Selvadurai ED, Singhera M, Thomas K, et al. Medium-term outcomes of active surveillance for localised prostate cancer. Eur Urol 2013;64(6):981–87
    • Shephard EA, Stapley S, Neal RD, et al. Clinical features of bladder cancer in primary care.  Br J Gen Pract 2012; 62(602):e598-604
    • Speakman M, Kirby R, Doyle S, Loannau C. Burden of male lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) suggestive of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – focus on the UK. BJU Int. 2014; Mar 24. doi: 10.1111/bju.12745 [Ahead of print]
    • Thakkinstian A, Attia J, Anothaisintawee T, Nickel JC. α-blockers, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories have a role in the management of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. BJU Int. 2012 Oct;110(7):1014–22 
    • Thompson D, Easton DF. Cancer Incidence in BRCA1 mutation carriers. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002;94(18):1358-65.
    • Trueman P, Hood SC, Nayak USL, et al. Prevalence of lower urinary tract symptoms and self-reported diagnosed ‘benign prostatic hyperplasia’, and their effect on quality of life in a community-based survey of men in the UK. BJU Int 1999;83:410-15.
    • Walsh AL, Considine S, Thomas AZ, et al. Digital rectal examination in primary care is important for early detection of prostate cancer: a retrospective cohort analysis study. Br J Gen Pract 2014