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

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.[3] 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.[9] The three criteria include the following:

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  1. Three or more first-degree relatives (father, brother, son), or
  2. Three successive generations of either the maternal or paternal lineages, or
  3. 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.[10] 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.

Risk Assessment and Analysis

Assessment of a man concerned about his inherited risk of prostate cancer should include taking a detailed family history; eliciting information regarding personal prostate cancer risk factors such as age, race, and dietary intake of fats and dairy products; documenting other medical problems; and evaluating genetics-related psychosocial issues.

Family history documentation is based on construction of a pedigree, and generally includes the following:

  • The history of cancer in both maternal and paternal bloodlines.
  • All primary cancer diagnoses (not just prostate cancer) and ages at diagnosis.
  • Race and ethnicity.
  • Other health problems including benign prostatic hypertrophy.[11]

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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