Genetic Tool Predicts Age-specific Risk for Developing Prostate Cancer

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have validated a more comprehensive genetic tool for predicting age of onset of aggressive prostate cancer.

“Genetic tools to predict a man’s lifetime risk of prostate cancer might allow us to target cancer screening efforts to the men who are most likely to need it. We are addressing a major public health problem and simultaneously addressing a concern that genomics and genetic tests may exacerbate health disparities because people of non-European ancestry are severely under-represented in most studies,” said principal investigator Tyler Seibert, MD, PhD, assistant professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine and radiation oncologist at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health.

The genetic score was tested in a multi-ethnic dataset of 80,491 men and was shown to be associated with age of onset of prostate cancer, as well as with age at death from prostate cancer.

With only a blood or saliva sample, a man’s genetic risk of prostate cancer can be estimated,” said Minh-Phuong Huynh-Le, MD, who is first author of the paper and was a resident physician at UC San Diego Health during the study. “Prostate cancer screening may reduce morbidity and mortality, but it should be targeted and personalized. Those at higher genetic risk might benefit from earlier and/or more frequent prostate cancer screening, and this genetic tool could identify those individuals.”

According to Dr. Seibert, however, more research still needs to be done as much of the data used for research continues to lack diverse representation. In fact, even the data for this study were missing clinical diagnosis information in men of African genetic ancestry.

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