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Gene for inherited prostate cancer risk found

Report of a story in the news   |   By Rebecca Bazeley   |   Published 20 January 2012

Source: Health Day

 A gene linked to a 10-20 fold increase in risk of prostate cancer has been uncovered by scientists.

The team from John Hopkins University and University of Michigan first came across the mutation in a study of 94 families with multiple cases of prostate cancer. They found the same mutation in the HOXB13 gene in four of the families and in all eighteen of the men with prostate cancer in these four families.  Researchers further validated the findings with a much larger study of 5,100 men with prostate cancer, 1.4% of which were found to have the mutation. It was also found to be much more common among affected men who has been diagnosed at a younger age (below 55) and who had a family history of the condition with fathers or brothers who had also had prostate cancer.   Although rare, the mutation is a highly consistent indicator of early onset of the disease. With an estimated one in nine men in the UK at risk of developing prostate cancer, the mutation could prove important for identifying those who may benefit most from early and more frequent screening. Its discovery may also help pinpoint a common genetic pathway for the cancer.


Scientists have long recognised a hereditary component to prostate cancer, a better understanding of which will lead to improved screening and outcomes for patients. The PHG Foundation is currently leading on the genetic strand of a European wide collaboration (COGS) to define individual risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers, based on lifestyle factors and genetic variants. 

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