Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City have identified two genetic deletions that could triple or even quadruple a man's risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer.
What's the problem?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in seven American men diagnosed with prostate cancer will die of the disease. Having a family history of prostate cancer is the strongest risk factor for the disease, and so being able to identify the genes being passed down is key to early detection and treatment.
How was it addressed?
The genetic analysis for men both with and without prostate cancer began in Austria in 1993. About 1,900 blood samples were studied during this test and researchers were able to identify two copy number variations that were dramatically different between those men with aggressive forms of cancer and those who were cancer-free. The study was then recreated by United States researchers, using a sample of 800 patients, and similar results were discovered.
What were the recommendations?
It is estimated that roughly three percent of the general population has the genes that could lead to aggressive prostate cancer. Those men suffering from aggressive prostate cancer had a much higher rate of this variant than men with less aggressive cancer and those who did not have cancer at all. Researchers are working to create a comprehensive DNA test to be used as a potential diagnostic tool.
What does it mean?
With so many men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year--and so many men dying from it-- narrowing down the genetic factors is potentially a very significant advance.
Researchers, however, were quick to point out that, despite the identification of genetic factors , many other things can contribute to prostate cancer. Even if a person doesn’t have either of the two genetic factors doesn’t mean he’s without risk. Age, race, hormonal factors, infection and dietary factors are all related to the development of prostate cancer; men need to continue to closely monitor their lifestyles and have regular check-ups with a doctor.
What's the impact?
When the test for the genetic factors is available, get tested.
Similar to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that can raise the risk of breast cancer in women, this may be a breakthrough towards identifying who is at the highest risk. With much debate surrounding the effectiveness of PSA testing, identifying the highest risk populations could both result in providing the best care for those at high risk and lowering costs by reducing the number of routine prostate cancer checks on a low-risk population.
By identifying the highest risk populations, cancer can be caught earlier and more lives can be saved.
Dallas, Mary Elizabeth. (9 April 2012). Researchers Find Genes Linked to Aggressive Prostate Cancer. Medline Plus. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_123878.html.
Link Between 2 Genetic Deletions in Human Genome and the Development of Aggressive Prostate Cancer. (11 April 2012). Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/243914.php.
Published On: April 11, 2012