In the light of recent discoveries (recently posted on this website) that some advanced prostate cancer patients harbor specific genetic mutations, a recent study summarized in the July 7th National Library of Medicine MedLine Plus suggested that testing for inherited abnormalities in DNA repair genes could provide patients and family members important information about their health and cancer risk. The research team led by Dr. Michael Walsh, a geneticist and pediatric oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York states that “historically, the main benefit of identifying cancer-causing mutations has been prevention and early detection in families. Now we can use inherited genomic information to target treatment, with specific therapies shown to be effective in those with specific genomic subsets of prostate cancer.”
The research team found a link between advanced prostate cancer and mutations in DNA repair genes. The mutations occur far more often in men with advanced disease than in those with prostate cancer that hasn’t spread, the study authors said. In addition, men with the abnormal repair genes are more likely to have close relatives with cancers other than prostate cancer compared to men without the mutations. These findings could help identify families that are at high risk for cancer and help prevent it in future generations, the researchers said.