A study published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has revealed the estimated risks of a man developing prostate cancer when other men in his family have also had it. This is significant because up until now, no one’s ever done that before. Scientists from Umea University and Lund University in Sweden uncovered that men with brothers who have had prostate cancer are themselves twice as likely to get a diagnosis when compared to the general population, showing that family history is indeed an indicator of predicting potential rates of diagnosis.
At the core of the study was data provided by the Prostate Cancer Data Base Sweden where over 50,000 men with brothers and fathers who had prostate cancer were studied. The findings of that research uncovered the following about prostate cancer risk:
- Men who had a brother with prostate cancer had a 30% risk of a diagnosis before 75; men without a family history of prostate cancer had a 13% risk of being diagnosed.
- Men who had a father and brother with prostate cancer were three times more likely to develop the cancer themselves, with a 48% chance of a milder form and a 14% chance of an aggressive form of prostate cancer.
- Whether the father and brothers had a mild or an aggressive form of the cancer had no bearing on whether a man would develop an aggressive form. This is potentially worrisome, as people may often think that if an aggressive form of the cancer isn’t in the family, then the chance of developing that same aggressive cancer themselves is reduced. But as this study shows, aggressive prostate cancer tumors can develop anyway, no matter what the family history says.
Swedish National Guidelines for prostate cancer encourage men with a family history of prostate cancer—two or more close family members with prostate cancer—should start screening for it between the ages of 40 and 50.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Familiar History Is an Important Factor for Prostate Cancer,” Umea University web site; http://www.umu.se/english/about-umu/news-events/news/newsdetailpage/familiar-history-is-an-important-factor-for-prostate-cancer.cid271894, last accessed July 12, 2016.
Bratt, O., et al., “Family History and Probability of Prostate Cancer, Differentiated by Risk Category: A Nationwide Population-Based Study,” Journal of the National Cancer, 2016; doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw110.