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Age and Genetics Play a Key Role in Prostate Cancer Occurrence

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Aug 5, 2014) - For most men, prostate cancer is a concern after the age of 55. While the majority of prostate cancer diagnoses occur among that age group, prostate cancer does get diagnosed in men before then, and we are starting to determine reasons why. In a recent study of early onset prostate cancer out of the University of Michigan, it was found that genetics play a factor in prostate cancer diagnosis and aggression.

"The most important lesson that we can take from this study, is that there is nothing more important than prostate cancer screening," says robotic prostate surgeon and prostate cancer expert Dr. David Samadi. "When you know that prostate cancer is in your family, you must take screening seriously."

Know your family history

Early onset prostate cancer -- prostate cancer before the age of 55 -- was studied in comparison to prostate cancer at an older age. When comparing the two age groups, it was found that those with early onset prostate cancer diagnoses had a family history of the disease and also carried genes for a more aggressive form of the cancer. What was also noted was an increase in the number of cases over time. The number of prostate cancer diagnoses has increased from 5.6 cases per 100,000 in 1986 to 32 cases per 100,000 in 2008.

"The more we know about prostate cancer, the better armed we are in the fight against prostate cancer," says Dr. Samadi. "Knowing that the risk of cancer is more likely in some men than in others will increase the chance of the cancer being diagnosed in its earliest stages."

Early onset could mean more aggressive cancer

The study also noted the degree of prostate cancer related to age. It seems the younger the man, the more severe the prostate cancer and the higher the mortality rate. Men with prostate cancer who are aged 35 to 44 are nearly one and a half times more likely to die from the cancer than those aged 64 to 75. After the age of 80, the prognoses is again worse.

Linking back to the genetic factor, it appeared that many of the younger, more severe diagnoses had a family history.

"Screening, screening, screening," says Dr. Samadi. "I cannot repeat this enough. If there is a genetic predisposition for prostate cancer, it is never too soon to have a PSA test."

This study was conducted by the University of Michigan Salinas CA. Nat Rev Urol. 2014; doi:10.1038/nrurol.2014.91.

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