The prostate is an organ deep down in the pelvis of men only. Its only known function is to help thin out the semen of men, but it is best known for all the problems it causes. This includes infections, inflammation, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer for men in the U.S. About 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. This year, nearly 175,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease. Family history is a known risk factor for prostate cancer,but sometimes prostate cancer risk can be tied back to your genes, even if you don't have a family history or you don't know your family history.
The most common gene that can cause prostate cancer is called the BRCA gene, which is best known for causing breast cancer. If your family has the BRCA gene, it also places the men at higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The most common way to find out if you have that gene is through the use of a genetic counselor and genetic testing. That can be done through something as simple as a blood test or a cheek swab. It may be a good option for men who don't know their family history due to not communicating with them or if they are adopted. It might be worthwhile to ask your doctor for more information about getting tested for the BRCA gene.
Scott Eggener, MD, specializes in the care of patients with prostate, kidney and testicular cancers and is co-director of the University of Chicago Medicine High-Risk and Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinic (UCHAP).