The purpose of this section is to describe current approaches to assessing and counseling patients about susceptibility to prostate cancer. Genetic counseling for men at increased risk of prostate cancer encompasses all of the elements of genetic counseling for other hereditary cancers. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Cancer Genetics Risk Assessment and Counseling for more information.) The components of genetic counseling include concepts of prostate cancer risk, reinforcing the importance of detailed family history, pedigree analysis to derive age-related risk, and offering participation in research studies to those individuals who have multiple affected family members.[1,2]Genetic testing for prostate cancer susceptibility is not available outside of the context of a research study. Families with prostate cancer can be referred to ongoing research studies; however, these studies will not provide individual genetic results to participants.
Prostate cancer will affect an estimated one in six American men during their lifetime. Currently, evidence exists to support the hypothesis that approximately 5% to 10% of all prostate cancer is due to rare autosomal dominant prostate cancer susceptibility genes.[4,5] The proportion of prostate cancer associated with an inherited susceptibility may be even larger.[6,7,8] Men are generally considered to be candidates for genetic counseling regarding prostate cancer risk if they have a family history of prostate cancer. The Hopkins Criteria provide a working definition of hereditary prostate cancer families. The three criteria include the following:
Like other forms of cancer, the prognosis for prostate cancer depends on how far the cancer has spread at the time it’s diagnosed. Doctors use a system of classification called staging to describe prostate cancer’s local extent and evidence of spread.
Prostate cancer stages can be complex and difficult to understand. WebMD takes a look at prostate cancer stages and what they mean to you.
Three or more first-degree relatives (father, brother, son), or
Three successive generations of either the maternal or paternal lineages, or
At least two relatives affected at or before age 55 years.
Families need to fulfill only one of these criteria to be considered to have hereditary prostate cancer. One study investigated attitudes regarding prostate cancer susceptibility among sons of men with prostate cancer. They found that 90% of sons were interested in knowing whether there is an inherited susceptibility to prostate cancer and would be likely to undergo screening and consider genetic testing if there was a family history of prostate cancer; however, similar high levels of interest in genetic testing for other hereditary cancer syndromes have not generally been borne out in testing uptake once the clinical genetic test becomes available.