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Prostate Cancer - Cause and Risk Factors
The causes of prostate cancer are still largely unknown. However, certain factors are known that increase the risk of prostate cancer. The most important factors are age and family disposition. In addition, environmental influences such as diet, living and possibly also working conditions play a role.
Age is the most important risk factor for prostate cancer. While the probability of developing prostate cancer within the next 10 years is around 1: 220 for a 45-year-old, the risk for a 75-year-old increases to 1:17.
Men who have developed prostate cancer in close relatives are at increased risk of developing the disease themselves. If the father is affected, the risk doubles; for a brother with prostate cancer it is up to three times as high as in the rest of the male population. The more family members are sick and the younger they were at the time of diagnosis, the greater the risk for male relatives of developing prostate cancer as well.
Important: Men who have prostate cancer in their close relatives should go for an early detection examination from the age of 40.
Hormones are a major contributor to the development of the disease, although their exact role is not entirely clear. However, we now know that without the male sex hormone testosterone, which is mainly produced in the testicles, prostate cancer cannot develop. Testosterone is necessary for the prostate to function. But it also promotes the growth of prostate cancer cells: For example, men who suffered testicular loss at a young age - before or immediately after puberty - are extremely rare in developing prostate cancer.
However, men treated with testosterone for underactive testicles (hypogonadism) do not have an increased risk of cancer.
Other risk factors
Smoking and alcohol generally increase the risk of cancer. But diet also plays an important role. Prostate cancer is more common in men of African origin than in whites or Asians. The disease is relatively common in Europe and North America, but rather rare in East Asia (China and Japan). There is some evidence that these differences can be traced back to diet and lifestyle, but genetic differences are also conceivable.
Concerning the impact of obesity and occupational risk, there is so far no consensus among experts. The available data from scientific studies are so complex and also contradictory that no conclusions can be drawn from them with regard to the risk of prostate cancer. In contrast, physical inactivity has been shown to increase the general risk of cancer.
(pp / red)
 Prostate cancer guidelines of the European Association of Urology, status 2014, http://uroweb.org/guideline/prostate-cancer/
 S3 quality interdisciplinary guideline for early detection, diagnosis and therapy of the various stages of prostate cancer, long version. Online at http://leitlinienprogramm-onkologie.de/uploads/tx_sbdownloader/LL_Prostata_Langversion_3.1.pdf
 H.-J. Pout. K. Höffken, K. Possinger (Eds.): Compendium Internal Oncology, Springer Verlag 2006
Prof. Dr. Kurt Miller
Clinic for Urology, Charité - University Medicine Berlin
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gschwend
Universitätsklinikum rechts der Isar, Munich
Last content update on: 09.01.2018
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