Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States, behind only lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Cancer of the prostate is a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it – early detection and personalized treatment saves lives. Doctors currently use tests, such as prostate-specific antigen (PSA), to detect and diagnose prostate cancer, but hereditary cancer screening may hold the key to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment.
Some people inherit a genetic mutation from their mother or father. This damaged gene puts them at greater risk for developing certain forms of cancer, including prostate cancer. In fact, hereditary prostate cancer accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all prostate cancer. Having a brother or father with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk for having the disease. Hereditary cancer testing helps men understand their inherited risk of developing cancer within their lifetime. This type of testing can also help reduce or eliminate unnecessary prostate biopsies completely in men suspected of having prostate cancer.
Hereditary cancer testing works by looking for specific changes, or mutations, in specific genes, chromosomes, and proteins. These mutations can change the way the gene works; in some cases, gene mutations can cause the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that characterize cancer.
Most commonly, hereditary cancer testing for prostate cancer looks for mutations in BRCA2 and BRCA1 genes, and in other genes associated with prostate cancer.
Hereditary Cancer Testing is Gaining Traction as a Way to Provide Earlier Diagnosis and More Effective Treatment for Prostate Cancer
While hereditary cancer testing can help inform treatment and management approaches to prostate cancer, genetic testing of men for prostate cancer is relatively uncommon, largely because of inconsistent guidelines covering the testing and challenges in implementing genetic counseling services. There is a lot of confusion regarding when men should undergo hereditary testing for prostate cancer, the genes that should be tested, understanding the impact genetic results will have on personalized treatment programs, and the effect hereditary testing for prostate cancer can have for men and their families.
Healthcare professionals and genetic testing companies are working hard to change that, though, and are making advances to bring hereditary cancer testing for prostate cancer to the men who need it. A group of healthcare professionals recently published key recommendations in Journal of Clinical Oncology, for example. The group, made of oncology, urology, genetic counseling, primary care, and Veterans Affairs experts along with patient stakeholders, strongly endorsed genetic testing in men with metastatic (spreading) prostate cancer to help guide treatment and to determine the patient’s eligibility in clinical trials. They also recommended this type of testing to screen men whose family history suggests an increased risk of prostate cancer and other types of cancer.
The researchers also addressed the impact hereditary cancer testing can have on the treatment of prostate cancer in its early stages. The group recommended BRCA-2 testing for screening and for helping men and their doctors make decisions about treating early-stage prostate cancer.
The researchers also reviewed cancer screening strategies, such as the age men should begin screening for prostate cancer and which genes to test. The group recommended testing BRCA2 and another gene, HOXB13, for screening and early detection. Furthermore, the panel recommended that BRCA2 carriers begin PSA testing early; doctors may recommend early screenings beginning at age 40 or about 10 years prior to the youngest prostate cancer diagnosis in the patient’s family.
Because hereditary testing may uncover inherited cancer risk, the researchers also discussed genetic testing for both male and female relatives of those men who test positive for genetic mutations, depending on the patient’s family history of cancer and other factors.
Hereditary cancer testing for prostate cancer is growing increasingly common because of the important role it plays in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.
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Frank Magliochetti owes his professional success to his expertise in two areas: medicine and finance. After obtaining a BS in pharmacy from Northeastern University, he stayed on to enroll in the Masters of Toxicology program. He later specialized in corporate finance, receiving an MBA from The Sawyer School of Business at Suffolk University. His educational background includes completion of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School and the General Management Program at Stanford Business School. Frank Magliochetti has held senior positions at Baxter International, Kontron Instruments, Haemonetics Corporation, and Sandoz. Since 2000, he has been a managing partner at Parcae Capital, where he focuses on financial restructuring and interim management services for companies in the healthcare, media, and alternative energy industries. Last year, he was appointed chairman of the board at Grace Health Technology, a company providing an enterprise solution for the laboratory environment. Most recently; Frank was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Designer Genomics International, Inc. The Company has accumulated a growing body of evidence that highlights a link between alterations in the immune and inflammatory systems and the development of chronic human disease. The Company is visionary and has established itself as a leader in the field of inflammatory and immune genetic DNA and RNA biomarkers that play a causative role in debilitating conditions, such as atherosclerosis/heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and cancer.
A proprietary state-of-the art data mining bioinformatics program, called ‘cluster analysis’ will be used to measure disease development susceptibility with potential for earlier diagnosis and intervention. The company is developing a healthcare program based on its proprietary genetic panels that will allow people to be their own healthcare advocate and take an active role in their health status as well as longevity.