Newly discovered genetic defects predispose men to prostate cancer

Danish researchers believe they've uncovered 72 inherited genetic defects that predispose men to prostate cancer--a finding that could help doctors identify men at high risk, diagnose prostate cancer earlier and treat patients more effectively.

Led by scientists from Rigshospitalet at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, a team of 31 research groups around the world conducted an international study that looked at 25,000 males with prostate cancer. The aim was to identify congenital genetic defects that might be linked to prostate cancer. The research is published in Nature Genetics.

"With this study, we believe to have clarified about 30% of the heredity in prostate cancer," Andreas Røder, a physician at the Copenhagen Prostate Cancer Center at Rigshospitalet, said in a statement.

Population screenings have previously shown that some males seem to be more susceptible to prostate cancer. But so far, it's been unclear what congenital genetic factors actually increase the risk of developing the disease.

While most are slow-growing, there are aggressive types of prostate cancer, and it is the leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Worldwide, it is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in males in developed countries.

"The results will help to target early discovery of prostate cancer in future, and thereby identify the patients needing treatment. The study also revealed that some of these genetic defects have been localized near the genes that control cell division, and this may have brought us closer to explaining the reason for developing prostate cancer," Røder said.

- here's the study
- read the press release

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