What is my risk for hereditary cancer?

Prostate cancer is a disease that will ultimately affect roughly 1 in 7, or about 14% of men, during their lifetime. The vast majority of prostate cancers develop sporadically, meaning that a change within a man's genetic code or cells occurred randomly and prevented them from functioning properly, thereby leading to the development of cancer. However, roughly 5-10% of all prostate cancer diagnosed is hereditary. This means, since other members in their family have prostate cancer or some other form of cancer, these men may be at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

As a result, a family history of prostate cancer becomes the strongest risk factor for one to eventually develop it, and these men are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as compared to a man with no family history of the disease. And, if a close relative, such as one's brother or father has prostate cancer, their lifetime risk of developing the disease is increased over five-fold. 

Are there other hereditary cancers that may increase my risk?

In recent years, studies have identified a number of genetic changes which may impact an individual's risk of developing prostate cancer. These genetic changes are known as germline mutations, or mutations that are passed from parents to their children.


An example of a germline mutation is the breast cancer predisposition gene 1 and 2 (BRCA1, BRCA2).  Men who are carriers of the BRCA1 mutation carry a 9.5% risk of developing prostate cancer in their lifetime, whereas men who are carriers of a BRCA2 mutation carry a 20% overall lifetime risk. Men who are positive carriers for these germline mutations may also need to be monitored for prostate cancer differently than those men without the mutations, such as more frequent PSA/PCM testing, since they are at increased risk of developing the disease. 

Furthermore, children of men (or women) who are carriers for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation may also have inherited the mutation. As a result, their risk of developing certain kinds of cancer may be elevated, including breast and ovarian cancer in females as well as male breast and prostate cancer in males. Therefore, it may be important for the children of parents who are positive for such mutations to receive genetic testing as well. 


Are there PCMs that can identify my hereditary risk for developing cancer?



There are several PCMs that can help you and your healthcare provider determine your hereditary risk for developing cancer. These tests include the Ambry Genetics ProstateNext test and the Myriad Genetics MyRisk test.  



How do I know if I should receive genetic testing to evaluate my hereditary cancer risk? 

Below are some general guidelines that can help determine who may be eligible to obtain PCM testing to assess their individual hereditary cancer risk.

  • Personal or family history of prostate cancer at age ≤ 50

  • Personal or family history of metastatic prostate cancer

  • Personal or family history of more than one cancer

  • Direct family history of breast, ovarian, colon, rectal, prostate, pancreatic, and/or other cancers

  • Direct family member with a positive cancer gene mutation


You can also complete an online questionnaire or quiz by following the links below. As with all tests, we suggest sharing the results with your healthcare provider to best determine if these PCMs may be applicable for your specific situation.  


What is My Risk?

This questionnaire, developed by Ambry Genetics, will help patients (with the help of their healthcare provider) determine their risk for hereditary cancers.

MyRisk Online Quiz

This online quiz, developed by Myriad Genetic Labs, will help patients (with the help of their healthcare provider) determine their risk for hereditary cancers.