It is well-established that men with a family history of prostate cancer have a higher likelihood of developing the disease during their lifetime. It is important for clinicians to identify these high-risk patients early on to implement effective screening and mitigation strategies.
Analysis of a large population database in Utah of over 600,000 men age 40 or older aimed to quantify the risk of prostate cancer development associated with different familial tumor patterns. The results, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, suggest that those men with a strong family history of prostate cancer (defined as having three first-degree relatives with prostate cancer or two first- and/or second-degree relatives with early-onset prostate cancer) had a substantially increased risk of being diagnosed with early-onset, lethal, and clinically significant prostate cancer. This risk was greater than those with other familial cancer syndromes, including hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and Lynch syndrome.
This study suggests that, from a clinical standpoint, increased surveillance in patients with a strong family history of prostate cancer (and those with other familial cancer syndromes) is especially warranted. Further identification of genes involved in prostate cancer familial clustering could aid in future understanding of the biology of this disease and potential new targets for therapeutics.
David Hermel, MD, is an oncology/hematology fellow at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.