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Aurora magazine

New guidelines for genetic testing for prostate cancer

There are few guidelines on the type of approach to be followed in the case of genetic testing for prostate cancer risk. A team of experts has decided to remedy the problems. Researchers at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) at Thomas Jefferson University made a series of recommendations.

More and more studies prove the existence of genetic hereditary factors underlying prostate cancer. Genetic tests can provide men and their families with the information they need to prevent this risk. Furthermore, if the disease occurs, they are a guide to identify the best treatments.

It is estimated that about 10-15% of prostate cancer cases have a hereditary basis. Some of the genetic anomalies that cause the tumor have been identified and can be identified by genetic testing. This is why, in case of suspected familiarity, it is important to request ad hoc genetic counseling. Urologists, family doctors and oncologists, however, are the first to give all the necessary information about it. This necessitates guidelines, so as to provide all the guidance patients need.

The guidelines aim to provide increasingly precise consultations, so as to deal with difficult situations. The results of genetic tests for prostate cancer risk, in fact, can affect entire families. A possible hereditary knowledge of prostate cancer affects not only those who take the test, but also their children, siblings and parents.

The SKCC initiative has involved over 70 experts including urologists, geneticists and oncologists. These included gynecologists and breast cancer experts, as well as bioethics scientists. Together they have drawn up the following recommendations:

  • Urologists are often the first to diagnose prostate cancer. It would be their task to dig into the patient's history, identifying any tumors in the maternal and paternal family. Not only the cases of prostate cancer, but also those in the breast, ovaries and others could be linked to a genetic predisposition. This could help other family members to develop prevention strategies.
  • It is important to disseminate more information on genetic testing. In particular, individuals at risk of genetic predisposition should be informed.
  • The genetic tests on the market today test the variants of 10-14 genes specific for prostate cancer risk. From a clinical point of view, it is better to dwell on certain subsets of genes. For example, BRCA test results are clinically relevant: many men with prostate cancer show abnormalities in these genes. In the presence of these mutations, the tumor behaves differently.