Researchers find new link between prostate cancer, genetics

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Men may be at a higher risk for developing advanced prostate cancer if women in their family have had female cancers like ovarian or breast. (WLS)

There is a new correlation between prostate cancer and genetics. Researchers in Seattle say men may be at a higher risk for developing advanced prostate cancer if women in their family have had female cancers like ovarian or breast.

Reverend William Dudley first got a tough diagnosis back in 2008. Having prostate cancer was a huge shock, since he didn't feel sick.

"It was just my doctor thought she needed to do the exam. She did that exam because I was in that age," Dudley said.

He started treatment right away, but four years later the cancer had spread. Some of it was in his back. He needed surgery or he might not be able to walk again.

"They cleaned out the cancer. They put a rod in and three screws. And then from there I won't say I had to learn to walk again ... but I had to learn to walk again," Dudley said.

Reverend Dudley's family has a history of cancer. And now a new international study led by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance shows a surprising genetic link.

"This is a big surprising finding and it's new. It involves many of the same genes that are involved in breast and ovarian cancer risk," said Heather Cheng, MD, PhD, Director of Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic.

In the study of nearly 700 men with advanced prostate cancer, they found almost 12 percent had inherited cancer risk genes that likely contributed to their cancer. Some of those same genes like BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 that contribute to breast cancer also affect men.

"I think because of the ways these genes were first identified with families that have breast and ovarian cancer, it fell through the cracks a little bit in the importance to men in those families," Cheng said.

Doctors say it's important for family members to share that history with each other and their doctors because early detection is key to winning the fight against cancer.

More than 200,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year. Most cases are treatable if caught early enough.

If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at www.ivanhoe.com.
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