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Genetics of Prostate Cancer (PDQ®): Genetics - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Introduction

Table 1. Relative Risk (RR) Related to Family History of Prostate Cancera continued...

Evidence for inherited forms of prostate cancer can be found in several U.S. and international studies.[31,35,51,52,53,54] It was first noted in 1956 that men with prostate cancer reported a higher frequency of the disease among relatives than did controls.[55] Shortly thereafter, it was reported that deaths from prostate cancer were increased among fathers and brothers of men who died of prostate cancer versus controls who died of other causes.[56]

(Refer to the PDQ summary on Prevention of Prostate Cancer for more information about risk factors for prostate cancer in the general population.)

Inheritance of Prostate Cancer Risk

Many types of epidemiologic studies (case-control, cohort, twin, family) strongly suggest that prostate cancer susceptibility genes exist in the population. An analysis of monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs in Scandinavia concluded that 42% (95% CI, 29–50) of prostate cancer risk may be accounted for by heritable factors.[57] This is in agreement with a previous U.S. study that showed a concordance of 7.1% between dizygotic twin pairs and a 27% concordance between monozygotic twin pairs.[58] The first segregation analysis was performed in 1992 using families from 740 consecutive probands who had radical prostatectomies between 1982 and 1989. The study results suggested that familial clustering of disease among men with early-onset prostate cancer was best explained by the presence of a rare (frequency of 0.003) autosomal dominant, highly penetrant allele(s).[31] Hereditary prostate cancer susceptibility genes were predicted to account for almost half of early-onset disease (age 55 years or younger). In addition, early-onset disease has been further supported to have a strong genetic component from the study of common variants associated with disease onset before age 55 years.[59]

Subsequent segregation analyses generally agreed with the conclusions but differed in the details regarding frequency, penetrance, and mode of inheritance.[60,61,62] A study of 4,288 men who underwent radical prostatectomy between 1966 and 1995 found that the best fitting genetic model of inheritance was the presence of a rare, autosomal dominant susceptibility gene (frequency of 0.06). In this study, the lifetime risk in carriers was estimated to be 89% by age 85 years and 3.9% for noncarriers.[58] This study also suggested the presence of genetic heterogeneity, as the model did not reliably predict prostate cancer risk in FDRs of probands who were diagnosed at age 70 years or older. More recent segregation analyses have concluded that there are multiple genes associated with prostate cancer [63,64,65,66] in a pattern similar to other adult-onset hereditary cancer syndromes, such as those involving the breast, ovary, colorectum, kidney, and melanoma. In addition, a segregation analysis of 1,546 families from Finland found evidence for Mendelian recessive inheritance. Results showed that individuals carrying the risk allele were diagnosed with prostate cancer at younger ages (<66 years) than noncarriers. This is the first segregation analysis to show a recessive mode of inheritance.[67]

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Last Updated: February 25, 2014
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