Reducing Prostate Cancer Risk

Last Modified: March 11, 2007


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 67. I am currently 40 years old. What types of things should I be doing to reduce my risk of prostate cancer?


Neha Vapiwala , MD, Senior Editor of OncoLink and Chief Resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

In general, when a family member is diagnosed with prostate cancer at an older age (i.e. after 60-65 years old), the risk of his younger family members also developing prostate cancer is not significantly or consistently higher than the risk of prostate cancer in the general population. Having said that, among those who have a family history and DO develop prostate cancer, it tends to occur at a relatively earlier age. In other words, the odds of being diagnosed are not necessarily greater if you have family history, but if you ARE diagnosed, chances are it will be at an earlier age. For this reason, we would recommend earlier screening with yearly serum PSA levels and digital rectal exams (DRE) at age 45 rather than 50 years old. It has not been shown that family members of prostate cancer patients are at increased risk of other cancers, so no other surveillance is recommended.

As far as herbs, supplements, or other risk-reducing measures, no one agent has been consistently demonstrated to have durable success. Keep in mind that many of these agents can and do affect the PSA levels, but this is not synonymous with controlling or preventing prostate cancer. Clinical chemoprevention research looking at lycopene, soy products, and anti-oxidants is ongoing.