Risk Factors

Risk Factors

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Who gets prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer affects men of all races and backgrounds. Anyone with a prostate can get prostate cancer.

While this toolkit uses male pronouns, we acknowledge that people assigned male at birth who identify as members the LGBTIQA+ community are also impacted by prostate cancer.

This includes transgender women, male-assigned non-binary people or intersex people.

In Australia, more than 25,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and over 3,700 men die from the disease. The chance of surviving at least 5 years after diagnosis is 95.6%, while 91% of men will survive 10 years or more. You can read more on the facts and figures page of this tool kit.

You are at greater risk of developing prostate cancer if you are older or have a family history of the disease.

1.2a 1in5

1 in 5 Australian men are likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer by age 85.

Risks factors for prostate cancer

Risk factors for prostate cancer are anything that increase your chance of developing the disease. Age and family history are proven risk factors for prostate cancer.

Age – what are the risks as men get older?

Age is a significant risk factor in prostate cancer. 

Age and family history are proven risk factors for prostate cancer.

A person’s risk of developing the disease increases with age, particularly from the age of 50.

For this reason, diagnosis rates are higher among older men – over 85% of Australian men diagnosed with prostate cancer are over the age of 60.

Of the 25,487 Australian males expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2023:


(1.6%) will be under 49


(12.5%) will be 50-59


(36.5%) will be 60-69


(36.4%), will be 70-79


(13.1%) will be over 80

Family history – how does this increase your risk of prostate cancer?

Your family history of prostate cancer can increase your risk of developing the disease. Around 15% of cases in Australia are among men with a family history of prostate cancer. 

Tell your doctor if you have close relatives who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. You may need to start PSA testing at an earlier age.

Your risks are also higher if one or more direct male relatives has had prostate cancer.

Knowing your family history of prostate cancer and taking action will increase your chances of detecting the disease at an early stage. Depending on the strength of your family history, you may need to start PSA testing from the age of 40 or 45.

PSA Testing

Genetics – what we know about inheriting prostate cancer

Genes, made up of DNA, are inherited from your parents and can be found in most of the cells in your body. This genetic material provides the information needed to build and maintain your body and give you your unique characteristics and traits.

Having gene mutations for breast or ovarian cancer in your family may increase your risk of prostate cancer.

In some families, changes (alterations or mutations) in the genetic material occurs which can increase the risk of family members developing cancer.

There is increasing evidence linking certain genes to prostate cancer. For example, men from families with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations are at increased risk of prostate cancer. Their cancers often occur at an earlier age and are faster growing. These genetic mutations are also linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

How does your family history change your risk?

Factors that can influence your family history risk include how many of your direct male relatives have been diagnosed, the age at which they were diagnosed, and the grading of the cancer (therefore how aggressive it was).

  • If your father or brother have ever been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you have twice the average risk of developing the disease.
  • If you have two or more close male relatives who have been diagnosed, your lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer increases by five times (five-fold).
  • Your risk also increases if you have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, especially if a BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation was involved.

Learn more about genetic risks and testing. If you are unsure about your risk of prostate cancer and are worried about it, talk to your doctor or call a PCFA nurse for more information and advice.

Genetic risks and testing.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer happens when abnormal cells develop and grow in the prostate. These abnormal cells can continue to multiply in an uncontrolled way. They sometimes spread outside the prostate into nearby or distant parts of the body.

If the cancer is small, stays inside the prostate gland and grows slowly, it may never cause a problem.

In some men, the cancer may grow more quickly and can spread beyond the prostate to other parts of the body.

Yet, most prostate cancers grow very slowly and about 95% of men survive at least 5 years after diagnosis.

Often when people hear the word ‘cancer’, they become concerned and think the worst. But most men with prostate cancer can live for many years without any symptoms, and without the cancer spreading or becoming life-threatening. It depends on how aggressive the cancer is.

Diagnosis of prostate cancer

Can prostate cancer be prevented?

Right now we have no way of preventing prostate cancer. This means awareness and testing is key, especially if you are in a high-risk group or have symptoms of the disease.

Into the future, research is vital to finding a way of preventing prostate cancer.

Key Points

  • More than 25,000 men are diagnosed every year with prostate cancer
  • Your age and family history are two proven risk factors
  • Over 90% of Australian men with prostate cancer are over the age of 50, with 1 in 5 men likely to be diagnosed by age 85
  • Your risks are higher if you have one or more relatives with prostate cancer
  • Having breast or ovarian cancer, or BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, in your family history may also increase your risk

Facts & Figures – Discover the facts and figures on prostate cancer
Symptoms – Learn about the prostate and symptoms to look out for