Genetic Testing May Identify Men at Risk for Prostate Cancer

23 new gene variants associated with prostate cancer susceptibility

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Lifestyle choices like smoking can increase your risk for cancer. But your genes may also raise your risk — particularly for prostate cancer

The authors of a recent study reviewed genetic data on a large group of men with and without prostate cancer.

They found nearly two dozen new gene variations that were associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

"Make sure prostate exams are part of your yearly checkup."

For this study, researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research at the University of Cambridge and the University of Southern California studied genetic data on 87,040 men. They looked for changes in normal gene sequences.

Over 67,000 men in the study had European ancestry, and over 10,000 were of African descent. Nearly 7,000 men were Japanese, and about 2,000 were Hispanic.

The study authors found 23 new gene variations in men with prostate cancer. That brought the total number of gene variants associated with prostate cancer to 100.

The 100 gene variants may be responsible for one-third of the inherited prostate cancers in men of European descent, the authors found.

Finding the variants may allow doctors to identify the 1 percent of men who have six times the average risk of prostate cancer — and the 10 percent who have a three times higher risk than men without the variants.

"The results of this study could take us a step closer to targeted screening by allowing us to identify those most at risk of the disease based on the genes that they possess," said Matthew Hobbs, deputy director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, in a press release.

"However, this is not the end of the story and the challenge now lies in translating this knowledge into a reliable test that can be used on a large scale through the [National Health System] to find those men at highest risk," he said.

"Genomics and personalized treatment are the future," E. David Crawford, Head of the Section of Urologic Oncology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, told dailyRx News.

In an article published in Oncology earlier this year, Dr. Crawford and colleagues reviewed recent advances in the discovery of prostate cancer biomarkers. They concluded that prostate cancer biomarkers "hold tremendous promise to assist the clinician in improving risk assessment, reducing overtreatment and providing more selective therapy for patients with high-risk disease. In the last 2 years, a number of new, exciting biomarkers have emerged that offer the opportunity to assist clinicians in determining when to biopsy, whom to re-biopsy, and how to assist patients in their treatment decisions."

The recent research paper was written by Ali Amin Al Olama, PhD, from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge in the UK, and a host of other researchers.

It was published in the September issue of Nature Genetics.

Cancer Research UK, Prostate Cancer UK and the US National Institutes of Health funded the study. The authors did not disclose any conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 16, 2014
Last Updated:
September 18, 2014