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DNA Testing Could Predict Prostate Cancer

Inherited mutations in genes may act as a contributor to metastatic prostate cancer in men, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Seven institutions across the country analyzed aggressive prostate cancer patients' genes for mutations in DNA repair, like BRCA1 and BRCA2. These inherited genetic mutations have already been associated with prostate cancer, however, the new study went deeper to see the rate of mutation.

Using next-generation sequencing assays, each of the seven sites screened for mutations in 20 DNA repair genes. Results showed that more than 10% of men with aggressive prostate cancer inherited mutations in their DNA repair genes. Of the men studied, 11.8% showed mutations in one of 20 DNA repair genes.

"The result is surprising and important for men with prostate cancer," explains Peter Nelson, MD, a member of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and professor of oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "These findings present a compelling argument for updating prostate cancer guidelines to include germline DNA testing as a part of standard care for men with metastatic prostate cancer."

Mutations in DNA repair genes are linked to other types of cancer, including breast, ovarian and pancreatic. Genetic testing is offered to people who have medical histories of these cancers. One goal of this research is to find a way to offer genetic testing to family members of patients with inherited mutations and prostate cancer.

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