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.
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:
- Mismatch repair genes
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:
- Detailed family history analysis
- Genetic tests for any gene alterations
- Personal history
- 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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