If I Have A Family History Of Prostate Cancer, Is There Genetic Testing To Determine If I Will Get It?

Dr. Bruce Trock answers the question: 'Genetic Testing For Prostate Cancer?'

ByBruce Trock, Ph.D., Asst. Professor, Urology and Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
November 19, 2008, 12:19 PM

March 16, 2009 -- Question: If I have a family history of prostate cancer, is there genetic testing that can be done to determine if I have prostate cancer or will develop it?

Answer: If you have a family history of prostate cancer, right now there isn't a test, a genetic test, that's offered for trying to see if you have an increased risk of prostate cancer. There's a lot of evidence that genes play a big role in your risk of developing prostate cancer. And we think that if you have a father or brother who has prostate cancer, then there may be a genetic component to your risk of getting prostate cancer.

There have been many, many studies trying to identify genes that give you an increased risk of prostate cancer. And so far, even though there have been a number of genes that look very promising, that look like they may be associated with an increased risk, the evidence so far is not strong enough or consistent enough that physicians are comfortable offering these tests to men to see if they have an increased risk of prostate cancer.

So knowing that you have a family history and that that gives you an increased risk is an important part of the knowledge you need to help either prevent prostate cancer or allow you to be diagnosed at the earliest and most curable stage. But beyond that there currently isn't a genetic test that you can get to look at your risk of prostate cancer.

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