Hereditary Prostate Cancer: What Men Need to Know

In honor of Men’s Health Week, June 12 – 18, 2017, I’d like to shed some light on genes that are relevant to hereditary prostate cancer. You might have seen discussion in the news lately about the BRCA genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) and how mutations in these genes are related to increased risks for female breast and ovarian cancer.

Did you know that in addition to increased risks for female breast cancer and ovarian cancer, individuals who carry a BRCA mutation are at an increased risk for prostate cancer (in addition to male breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and possibly melanoma)?

In this article, I will discuss some of the genes that are available for genetic testing relevant to hereditary prostate cancer. Although information may be limited on some of the genes discussed below, many feel that identifying a risk factor relevant to hereditary prostate cancer is helpful as it can aid in screening and/or prevention.

It’s also important to note that most prostate cancer is not hereditary and more often sporadic. The general population risk for men to develop prostate cancer according to the American Cancer Society is 1 in 7 (~14.2%). Of the hereditary cases that exist, the below genes are available for genetic testing. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and that there are many genes that still being thoroughly researched as far as their associations go.

BRCA1 and BRCA2

BRCA mutation carriers can have up to a 15-20% lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer. They are more likely to have an earlier onset prostate cancer and tend to have a more aggressive prostate cancer compared to men in the general population.

Lynch Syndrome Genes

These genes are better known for their association with increased risk for colorectal, endometrial, ovarian and gastric cancers. However, those with Lynch syndrome have a two to five fold higher prostate cancer risk than the general population. The age of onset and aggressiveness does not appear to be different than sporadic cases of prostate cancer.

HOXB13

Specific HOXB13 mutations are associated with a significantly increased risk for early onset prostate cancer, but because it’s a newly described gene, information is very limited. No specific lifetime risk estimates are available yet.

NBN

NBN mutations are thought to be associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer, but because it’s a newly described gene, information is very limited. No specific lifetime risk estimates are available yet.

If you have questions regarding genetic counseling or genetic testing, please call the ProMedica Cancer Institute’s Cancer Genetics Program at 419-824-5073.

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