Genetic risk factors identified for prostate cancer

Monash University’s Precision Medicine research group has discovered multiple new genetic risk factors that make men susceptible to aggressive prostate cancer that will contribute to future prevention of the disease.

Reported in a series of articles published in the prestigious international journals European Urology, Journal of the National Cancer Institute and International Journal of Cancer, the combined research outcomes of these studies validate that genetic alterations in the BRCA2, PALB2 and ATM genes are associated with prostate cancer risk in men that have a strong family history and elevates their risk of an aggressive form of the disease.

The studies, involving decades of collaborative research conducted by the Precision Medicine group and the Cancer Epidemiology Division of Cancer Council Victoria, have used the latest genetic sequencing technologies to screen thousands of men with and without prostate cancer.

Led by Dr Tu Nguyen-Dumont, from the Monash School of Clinical Sciences based at Monash Health, the research group used gene panel sequencing to compare the genetic variants of 787 Australian men with aggressive prostate cancer and 769 men with non-aggressive prostate cancer.

The team also contributed resources to a complementary international study of genetic risk factors for prostate cancer that analysed the DNA repair genes from 5,545 men with aggressive and non-aggressive prostate cancer, with further research comparing gene variations in 920 men with either a strong family history of prostate cancer or the aggressive form of the disease.

“Our findings contribute important evidence to support the clinical interpretation of genetic variation and the identification of the men at greatest risk of developing the disease,” Dr Nguyen-Dumont observed.

“This new data will improve the care of men with and without prostate cancer, including the ability to predict susceptibility to aggressive prostate cancer and put in place measures to mitigate or even prevent the disease,” Dr Nguyen-Dumont added.

“This research is very important to our efforts to discover modifiable lifestyle factors that might influence a man’s future risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer,” said Associate Professor Robert MacInnis, Principal Research Fellow at Cancer Council Victoria.

“Together these results provide important evidence upon which to further advance precision prevention for prostate cancer,” said Professor Melissa Southey, Chair of Precision Medicine at Monash University and Research Director of the Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in men.  In Australia, about 60 men die of prostate cancer each week and usually occurs in men over 50 years of age.  Currently, there is no cure and more research is needed to find effective treatments in identifying and treating the disease.

Wendy Smith
Media Monash University
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