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Prostate Cancer and Genetics

One in six men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime. Age and race are two of the most recognized risk factors, but some risk factors can be inherited. Large scale population studies of men who have brothers or fathers with prostate cancer have shown an increase in risk that is two to three times the general population.

Some clues to inherited risk within a family include:

  • Cancer diagnosed at earlier ages than typically expected (under 40)
  • Families with multiple individuals with prostate cancer
  • Other cancers in family members including:
    • Breast cancer
    • Ovarian or uterine cancer
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Colorectal cancer

People concerned about their families’ history of prostate and other cancer may benefit from meeting with a genetic counselor in the Cancer Genetics Clinic to talk about cancer risk, possible genetic testing, screening options or research opportunities. Families who find that they are at a higher risk for prostate cancer and other cancers can benefit from increased screening and prevention options.

Approximately 5-10% of prostate cancers are thought to be related to high risk susceptibility genes, which can be passed from parent to child. Some genes are currently well known, while it is likely some still remain to be discovered. Some of these genes may also be linked to an increase in risk for additional cancers.

Research is ongoing at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and elsewhere to learn and discover new genes associated with a strong family history of prostate cancer.

Continue reading about cancer genetics and prostate canceral