How can age affect my risk of getting prostate cancer?

The risk for prostate cancer increases with age because as men grow older, mutated cells in the prostate can begin to form more rapidly than regular cells and can accumulate to form a tumor. If left untreated, an aggressive form of prostate cancer can spread to other areas of the body.

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Age is a major risk factor for prostate cancer. As a man gets older, his risk of being diagnosed gets higher. In fact, in autopsies on men in their 70s, almost three-quarters of them will have some evidence of prostate cancer. Most of those men, however, will not die of prostate cancer, which is important in considering treatment options.

Simply stated, age is among the strongest prostate cancer risk factors. In fact, because 80 percent of diagnosed cases occurring in men ages 65 and older, prostate cancer is generally considered a disease of older men.

Prostate cancer risk factors are thought to increase exponentially after the age of 50. This is due to the large prevalence of latent prostate cancer that increases with age, the improved ability to detect the disease at this stage and the longer life expectancies. It is estimated that 30 percent of men at the age of 50 already have microscopic evidence of prostate cancer, and this increases by the decade to 80 percent or more by the age of 80.

Although the age-related increase in prostate cancer parallels the increase in total cancer rates that occurs in the US with increasing age, it does occur at younger ages, but is very unusual, at least before the age of 50.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.