The Importance to Knowing Your Family History of Prostate Cancer

As a genetic disease, cancer is caused by changes to the genes that control cell function. The exact reason why changes in genes occur and lead to the development of cancer is unknown. However, researchers have found that there are certain factors that increase the risk of mutations to the DNA within cells, causing uncontrolled cell growth and tumor formation. These risk factors can be hereditary, environmental, or related to lifestyle and behavioral exposures. Hormones, infection, inflammation, and existing health conditions also can increase the risk of cancer.

With prostate cancer, family history plays a critical role. Here’s why it’s important to know your family history of prostate cancer.

Familial and Hereditary Prostate Cancer

Familial prostate cancer accounts for about 20 percent of all diagnosed prostate cancers. Therefore, if there is familial prostate cancer or a cluster of prostate cancer within your family, you may have a genetic predisposition for the condition.

There also is hereditary prostate cancer, which accounts for about 10 percent of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer. With hereditary prostate cancer syndrome, you have inherited a gene mutation from your blood relatives, which may develop into prostate cancer.

It’s important to diagnose hereditary prostate cancer syndrome because the diagnosis also will affect other family members. Close relatives may want to be tested to determine whether they have the same gene mutation. Hereditary prostate cancer is generally suspected if a family history includes prostate cancer in three generations on the same side of the family or if two or more close relatives on the same side of the family have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The biggest concern with familial prostate cancer and hereditary prostate cancer syndrome is that they not only increase the risk of developing prostate cancer but they also increase the risk of getting prostate cancer earlier in life. Therefore, having a record of health problems that have occurred in your family is important to understanding your own risks.

Creating a Family Health History

Keep a record of your family health history to help your doctor assess your risks and determine when cancer screening is right for you. Your doctor may recommend that you get tested earlier for prostate cancer because of your family’s health history. To get a complete family health history, talk to your:

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Cousins
  • Aunts and Uncles
  • Sisters and Brothers

Health information that is helpful to have includes:

  • Birthday and current age
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Serious illnesses, such as cancer diagnosis
  • Age when those health issues and diseases started or diagnosed

Remember that talking about health problems can make some people uncomfortable. It would be best to speak to each family member privately. You also should explain that you need the information to assess your own health risks and promise them that you will keep their health history confidential.

At Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology we provide the latest in prostate cancer treatment, including prostate seed implants or brachytherapy. We are among the first in Florida to offer CyberKnife radiosurgery treatment for prostate cancer and it is available at our Brandon facility.

Contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology today for more information about prostate cancer and prostate treatment options. Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology has multiple facilities located in the Tampa Bay area.