Genetic screening could help identify men who are most likely to develop an
aggressive form of prostate cancer, a study shows.
The researchers say that men could soon be offered genetic screening for the
disease so that those at greatest risk could be monitored throughout their
lives, while others would avoid unnecessary treatment.
Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London examined
blood samples from 191 men with prostate cancer and at least three close
relatives with the disease. They identified 13 mutations, in eight known cancer
risk genes, that greatly increase the risk of developing the most aggressive form of
'These results are exciting as they add to the growing weight of evidence
that men with a family history of prostate cancer who possess certain genes may
be at higher risk, providing us with another crucial piece of the jigsaw', said
Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK.
He added: 'Genetic testing to predict risk could revolutionise how we treat
the 40,000 men diagnosed with the disease every year in the UK'.
The discovery suggests that men could be tested for high-risk mutations in the same
way that women are screened for breast cancer risk genes.
Study co-leader Ros Eeles, professor of oncogenics at the ICR, said: 'Although
ours was a small, first-stage study, we proved that testing for known cancer
mutations can pick out men who are destined to have a more aggressive form of
She added: 'We already have the technical capabilities to assess men for
multiple mutations at once, so all that remains is for us to do further work to
prove that picking up dangerous mutations early can save lives. If so, then in
the future genetic testing may be needed as part of the prostate cancer care
BBC News reports that the ICR research group is currently
running a larger prostate cancer screening trial 'involving 2,000 men and
testing 192 genes'.