Scientists develop a more accurate way to predict prostate cancer

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Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men.

In a study from Cambridge University and elsewhere, scientists have created a comprehensive tool for predicting an individual’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

They say it could help ensure that those men at greatest risk will receive the appropriate testing while reducing unnecessary—and potentially invasive—testing for those at very low risk.

CanRisk-Prostate will be incorporated into the group’s CanRisk web tool, which has now recorded almost 1.2 million risk predictions.

The free tool is already used by healthcare professionals worldwide to help predict the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.

Testing for prostate cancer involves a blood test that looks for a protein known as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) that is made only by the prostate gland; however, it is not always accurate.

Around three in four men with a raised PSA level will not have cancer. Further tests, such as tissue biopsies or MRI scans, are therefore required to confirm a diagnosis.

In the paper, the team described the development of the first comprehensive prostate cancer model using genetic and cancer family history data from almost 17,000 families affected by prostate cancer.

It uses data on rare genetic faults in moderate-to-high-risk genes and a risk score based on 268 common low-risk variants, together with detailed cancer family history, to predict future risks.

Using the model, the team found that the predicted risk was higher for men who had a father diagnosed with prostate cancer—27% if the father was diagnosed at an older age (80 years) but as high as 42% if the father was diagnosed at a young age (50 years).

The risks were considerably higher for men with genetic faults.

To validate their model, the team ran the risk model on an independent cohort of over 170,000 men recruited to the UK Biobank.

The researchers found that 86% of the UK Biobank participants who developed cancer were in the half of men with the highest predicted risks.

This suggests that it may be possible to target screening and diagnostic tests to the subgroup of the population at highest risk, among whom the majority of the cancers will occur.

The researchers hope this will help clinicians and genetic counselors assess their clients’ risk and provide the appropriate follow-up.

If you care about prostate cancer, please read studies about new drug for treating aggressive prostate cancer, and dairy foods may increase men’s risk of prostate cancer.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about drug that can block multiple COVID-19 variants, and results showing that vitamin D supplements strongly reduces cancer death.

The study was conducted by Professor Antonis Antoniou et al and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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