Prostate Cancer in Families – Get the Word Out!

How much do you know about prostate cancer? Take this short quiz:

1.What is the greatest risk factor for prostate cancer?

a) Exposure to environmental toxins like agent orange

b) Family history

c) Obesity

d) Smoking

e) Lack of exercise

2. How many cases of prostate cancer are hereditary?

a) Less than 3%

b) 3 to 5%

c) 5 to 10%

3. True or false: having a first degree relative (father, brother, son) with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk.

4. True or false: family history on your father’s side increases prostate cancer risk more than family history on your mother’s side.

5. True or false: a family history of breast cancer increases a man’s risk of prostate cancer.

Answers

  1. All of the risk factors listed do increase man’s chances of developing prostate cancer. However, family history is the single greatest risk.
  2. Anywhere from 5 to 10% of prostate cancer patients have a family history.
  3. It is true that a man whose father, brother, or son was diagnosed with prostate cancer has more than twice the risk of developing it himself. The risk level is even higher if he has two or more other relatives (uncle, grandfather, cousin) who have had prostate cancer.
  4. It is false that one side of the family creates greater risk than the other. The risk is equal whether prostate cancer occurred on the mother’s side or the father’s side.
  5. It is true that there is a hereditary connection between breast cancer and prostate cancer. Though the reasons are not well understood, a family history of breast cancer statistically raises the risk of prostate cancer in male offspring, and a family history of prostate cancer likewise raises the risk of breast cancer in female offspring.

No cancer skeletons in the closet

How well did you do on this quiz? The purpose of this blog is to emphasize the importance of communicating your health history with your siblings and children. It is also important to gain information based on your family tree. How much do you know about your ancestors’ health history, and the health history in your spouse or partner’s ancestry? One of the most precious legacies you can give your children is knowledge that will empower them to make informed lifestyle and healthcare decisions. Many daily choices can help prevent cancer. Educating yourself and your family can boost motivation to form wise habits such as eating heart healthy foods (yes, if it’s good for your heart it’s good for your prostate), embracing regular vigorous exercise, avoiding smoking, moderate alcohol use, and good stress management.

There was a time in the not so distant past when cancer was a hush-hush secret, not to be talked about in families. Even now, many cultures discourage knowledge about the body as being private or intimate. On the other hand, prostate cancer and all cancers can create skeletons – literally – in the family closet. Therefore, it’s essential to get the word out to family members.

Of course, it’s equally important to be sensitive to how much and in what way you convey the information. If you are personally uncomfortable with the idea of sharing information about cancer in the family, there are many good books and online articles about how to talk about this important topic with family members.

The point is, when you share genes with people you love, you do them a loving favor by helping make them aware of possible vulnerabilities. Think of it as an investment in the well-being of today’s generation and those yet to come.

NOTE: This contentis solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.

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