Causes of prostate cancer and who does it affect?

The incidence of prostate cancer increases with age (as is the case for most carcinomas). These is a familial incidence of the disease, with certain recognised genetic mutations being associated with a high increase e.g. BRCA gene mutations. There are racial differences in incidence – the disease being common in Afro-Americans and less in the Japanese. Whilst the incidence of the disease is related to testosterone levels, it is not correlated with sexual activity.

More information about the key factors in prostate cancer:

The evidence currently available suggests that the risk of future generations of men developing prostate cancer could possibly be reduced by a simple and healthy dietary management, so my advice to you is to eat more vegetables, pasta and pizza.

However, it is very important to note that once a cancer has developed there is little objective evidence to support the view that changing diet will make the cancer go away or prolong survival. In fact, changing diets in these circumstances may even be detrimental, causing significant weight loss, affecting your life quality and jarring relationships by making your partner think that what she has fed you over the years has caused your cancer. If you do intend making drastic changes to your diet, I suggest you first discuss this with your doctor. Some of the organisations and support groups listed here also offer dietary advice.

Who does prostate cancer affect?

Uncommon in younger men, the frequency with which cancer affects the prostate gland increases with age. In fact a small spot of prostate cancer is very common in older men, occurring in up to 80% of 80-year olds who, having died from a cause other than prostate cancer, have had their prostate examined at post-mortem. These little spots of prostate cancer – or foci, as they are called – occur in 70% of 70-year olds. On account of the high prevalence of the disease in the elderly, it is clear that many cases of early prostate cancer do not progress over many years (which has relevance to the recommendation of ‘observation only’ in some patients with early, and perceived indolent, prostate cancer)

Prostate cancer is the second most common malignancy of men in the Western world and its incidence has been increasing over the last decade (a higher prevalence being partly due to the PSA screening programme). There are 6500 deaths in the UK annually from this cancer and a lifetime risk of developing this disease of around 7-10 %.

With the increased usage of PSA screening, the disease is being more readily picked up in its early stages and it is in this group of patients that the very high cure rates are now being achieved – either by surgery, external beam conformal radiotherapy or prostate seed brachytherapy (this last – brachytherapy – becoming more popular over radical surgery in the last few years in the USA, and becoming more so in the UK).