Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer affecting men. The disease can develop undetected for many years. This leads to serious problems when it is finally found at a late stage. Many prostate cancers grow very slowly (for as long as 20 years) and do not require treatment. Others, however, are aggressive and quickly spread throughout the body.
It is well known that some cancers such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer can be caused by faulty genes transferred from parents to children. Currently, many hospitals run screening tests helping women to identify their risk of hereditary breast cancer. There is considerable evidence that in some families, prostate cancer also runs from generation to generation. Until recently, the genetic mechanisms behind this trend were not very well studied.
Scientists identified 14 genes linked to a high risk of prostate cancer
Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research in the UK have analyzed the genes of 191 men with a family history of prostate cancer. They found that 7% of these men have one of 14 high-risk mutations that can lead to the development of the disease. The presence of these mutations not only elevates the chances of getting prostate cancer during their lifetimes, but also leads to the development of more aggressive tumors that can rapidly spread from the prostate gland to other organs and tissues of the body.
Using these findings, scientists are now developing a genetic test that will be able to detect faulty genes linked to prostate cancer. This test has a potential of revolutionizing prostate cancer screening. Using the test, doctors will be able to calculate the individual risk of prostate cancer and carefully monitor those people who are at a high risk of the disease. The test will also help to decide if the diagnosed prostate cancer is aggressive and needs to be removed immediately.
Fourteen genes linked to aggressive hereditary prostate cancer were identified. The findings will be used to develop a genetic test capable of predicting the individual risk of disease.
- D Leongamornlert, E Saunders, T Dadaev et al. Frequent germline deleterious mutations in DNA repair genes in familial prostate cancer cases are associated with advanced disease. British Journal of Cancer