We often refer to prostate cancer as a family affair, or rather being passed on from father to son, etc. This is only partially true because there is still more prostate cancer diagnosed in men without any family history.

For those cancers that are passed on from one family member to another it is important to understand the risks. This includes the risks for both being diagnosed and the risks for aggressiveness.

It is generally accepted that if your brother has prostate cancer your risk of also having prostate cancer is doubled. But what does this really mean? Yes, you are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer if your brother has been, but will your cancer the same as your brothers? In other words if your brother has aggressive disease is you risk of developing aggressive disease doubled?

Swedish researchers, in a very large study, evaluated the prostate cancer risk of 50,000 brothers of men with who were diagnosed. Thirty per cent (30%) of the men that had only one brother with prostate cancer were diagnosed with prostate cancer by age 75 years. This is double the Swedish national average of thirteen percent (13%).

The surprise was that their risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer was much lower: only nine percent (9%). This is compared to the Swedish national average of aggressive disease of five percent (5%).

For those men that had both a father and a brother diagnosed with prostate cancer, the risk of any form of prostate cancer was as high as forty eight percent (48%) while the risk of being diagnosed with aggressive disease was fourteen percent cent (14%).

Ola Bratt, Linda Drevin, Olof Akre, Hans Garmo & Pär Stattin. Family History and Probability of Prostate Cancer, Differentiated by Risk Category – a Nationwide Population-Based Study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 108 Issue 10 October 2016 DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djw110