A set of 14 gene mutations has been identified by scientists for use in identification of males who are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. This discovery provides the opportunity to offer screening to males who are most of risk of developing these deadly tumours.
The study commenced with 191 British males with a minimum of three relatives suffering from the disease, providing blood samples to the researchers. Fourteen of these men had various ‘loss of function’ mutations within their DNA. This stopped a gene from working at all. Males who carry any one of the flaws found were are greater risk of developing spreading, invasive prostate cancer.
London’s Institute of Cancer Research has stated that this was a small initial study, but it has proven that testing for cancer mutations that are known can help in the identification of males who are pre-disposed to a more aggressive type of prostate cancer. The institute already has the ability to do assessments for multiple mutations, and all that remains is to do further tests which will prove that early identification of dangerous mutations will save lives. If this is done, men will be able to undergo genetic testing as part of the care pathway for prostate cancer.
Although there have been major advances in the treatment methods of the cancer over the past two decades, the statistics related to death from prostate cancer indicate that out of 40,000 males who are diagnosed, 11000 will die.
Researchers revealed that there is currently no method of screening available for men who are at risk of this disease that could dramatically shorten their lifespan. This new research could provide males with the opportunity to be tested for these mutations in the same manner females are currently being screened for genes linked to breast cancer. This would provide males with the opportunity to obtain early diagnosis and relevant treatment for this killer cancer.
Image credit: Nephron (Wikipedia)