BRCA1 increases risk of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is most common in men over 50, but it is also seen in younger men, where it tends to be more aggressive. This form of prostate cancer seems to run in families, including families in which women have had breast cancer linked with the BRCA1 mutation. Research led by the oncogenetics team at the U.K. Institute of Cancer Research has confirmed this connection, highlighting a potential new genetic biomarker that could be used in screening, leading to earlier diagnosis, more targeted treatment and better outcomes for patients. The researchers screened 913 men, especially those with early-onset prostate cancer, for the mutated BRCA1 gene, and found that around three-quarters of those men with the mutation had been diagnosed before the age of 65, translating into roughly a four-fold increased risk of developing the disease. Emma Malcolm, chief executive of study sponsor Prostate Action, said: "Early detection of prostate cancer can vastly improve the chances of successful treatment but at the moment there isn't an effective way of screening for the disease. We've long known about the link between breast cancer and prostate cancer and this research confirms the likelihood of men developing prostate cancer from the inherited faulty BRCA1 gene. Once gene testing becomes faster and cheaper, we may be able to identify those men at a higher risk of prostate cancer and monitor them from an early age." Press release | Paper