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Cancer Risk Assessment for Prostate Cancer

Cancer that develops in the prostate gland is called prostate cancer. It is one of the common types of cancer. Prostate gland is a small walnut shaped gland in men, which produces semen and is responsible for nourishment and transportation of sperm. However, it is not entirely impossible to know if one has  prostate cancer. Recent advances such as genetic testing and screening methods have made it possible to know if one will develop or has a risk of developing prostate cancer in the future.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer include:

  • Older age: It commonly affects men who are older than 50.
  • Family history: If someone in your family has a history of prostate cancer, it could increase your chances too.
  • Obesity: Obesity is commonly seen in men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer than with a healthier weight.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals: Firefighters can be exposed to chemicals that may increase their risk of prostate cancer.
  • Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome: HBOC is associated with the inherited DNA-repair alterations to the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 genes. BRCA stands for “BReast CAncer”. HBOC is commonly associated with breast and ovarian cancers in women and only breast cancers in some men.
  • Race/ethnicity: Certain races are more prone to prostate cancer. For reasons unknown Black men, especially African-American men. Also, geographically, prostate cancer occurs more often in North American or northern European location.

Common Genes Responsible for Prostate Cancers

Gene variations in certain genes give modest to moderate lifetime risk of prostate cancer, these are listed below:

  • BRCA1
  • BRAC2
  • Mismatch repair genes
  • HOXB13

Other genetic changes: Other genes such as HPC1, HPC2, HPCX, CAPB, ATM, FANCA also increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Assessment of Prostate Cancer Risk

Individuals with any of the risk factors mentioned above should consider the cancer assessment. The following tests can be performed to assess the cancer risk in a vulnerable person:

  1. Detailed family history analysis
  2. Genetic tests for any gene alterations
  3. Personal history
  4. Recommended screening test for prostate cancer: Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test

To check for if you have a genetic alteration that is linked to prostate cancer – it can start with a simple blood test or saliva test. If your urologist suggests for genetic testing, it should be considered after a proper genetic counselling.

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FAQ's :

Yes, a small percentage of prostate cancer (approximately 10%) can develop cancer due to a hereditary prostate cancer syndrome.

Yes, genome testing for prostate cancer is available that accurately assesses the prediction of long-term prostate cancer.

There is no proven strategy, however, genetic testing and screening can help to evaluate the risk of prostate cancer, and accordingly prevent it by making healthy lifestyle choices – regular exercise & diet.

The PSA test measures the amount of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate, these levels are higher in men who have prostate cancer.

A man should consider genetic testing, if he has at least one close blood relative with breast or ovarian cancer at age 50 or younger. It can also be considered when at least two family members are with ovarian, breast or prostate cancers.

References:

  1. What is Prostate cancer? American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/what-is-prostate-cancer.html Accessed on 31-05-2022
  1. Prostate cancer. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostate-cancer/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353093 Accessed on 31-05-2022
  1. Prostate cancer risk factors. American cancer society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html Accessed on 31-05-2022
  1. Genetic testing for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer foundation. https://www.pcf.org/patient-resources/family-cancer-risk/genetic-testing-prostate-cancer/ Accessed on 31-05-2022
  1. Prostate cancer. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/prostate-cancer/ Accessed on 31-05-2022
  1. Who is at risk for prostate cancer? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/risk_factors.htm Accessed on 31-05-2022
  1. Genetic Testing for Prostate Cancer: What You Should Know. Urology Care Foundation. https://www.urologyhealth.org/healthy-living/urologyhealth-extra/magazine-archives/fall-2018/genetic-testing-for-prostate-cancer-what-you-should-know Accessed on 31-05-2022

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