A specific gene mutation causes the worst forms of prostate cancer, according to new research.
Scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research in London and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust found that men with an inherited gene mutation, the faulty BRCA2 gene, are often afflicted with types of prostate cancer that spread more rapidly and result in higher fatality rates.
The team analyzed the medical histories of prostate cancer sufferers and whether or not they carried the faulty BRCA2 gene. The scientists found that patients with the faulty gene lived an average of 6.5 years after diagnosis, whereas non-carriers lived 12.9 years. In addition, gene carriers were more likely to have advanced prostate cancer at the time of diagnosis.
The BRCA2 gene has not just been linked to prostate cancer, but also hereditary breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Due to the higher risk of developing tumors or death from the condition, doctors should consider treating patients with this faulty gene more quickly than usual. Those with the gene could have an improved survival rate if surgery or radiotherapy are considered at early stages, even at the point when the disease is considered low-risk.
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The prostate, only found in men, makes the fluid part of semen. It often does not cause any symptoms until a tumor is large enough to cause problems passing urine, and many men live normal lives with the condition. If the cancer is not impacting a man's life, they are sometimes advised to delay treatment.
It is estimated that one in 100 men with prostate cancer also carry the faulty gene. Over 40,000 men are diagnosed with the condition every year.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Image credit: Alex Proimos