In an extensive international trial, researchers from Rigshospitalet and others have discovered 72 congenital genetic defects which predispose to prostate cancer. This is a ground-breaking discovery which opens for completely new possibilities for diagnosing and treating this type of cancer.
Prostate cancer is currently the most common cancer disease in males in Denmark with about 4,000 new cases every year, and the number of new cases has been increasing significantly over the past ten years. Each year 1,100 Danish males die of prostate cancer. It is still unclear why and how prostate cancer occurs. Population screenings have previously shown that some males seem to be genetically predisposed to prostate cancer, but so far precisely what congenital genetic factors increase the risk of developing prostate cancer has been unclear what.
However, now researchers from Rigshospitalet and Herlev Hospital together with 31 research groups from all over the world have taken part in an extensive international collaboration to identify congenital genetic defects that predispose to prostate cancer. The study includes 25,000 males with prostate cancer, including about 1,100 Danish males.
“In the trial, we found 72 congenital genetic defects that predispose to prostate cancer. The results of the study are ground-breaking and contribute considerably to our understanding of the correlation between congenital genetic defects and the risk of developing prostate cancer. With this study, we believe to have clarified about 30% of the heredity in prostate cancer,” says Andreas Røder, physician at the Copenhagen Prostate Cancer Center at Rigshospitalet.
The results of the study will be published today in the internationally acclaimed journal Nature Genetics.
Genetic defects can explain why this cancer occurs
This study will play a decisive role for future patients with prostate cancer.
“The results will help to target early discovery of prostate cancer in future, and thereby identify the patients needing treatment. The study also revealed that some of these genetic defects have been localised near the genes that control cell division, and this may have brought us closer to explaining the reason for developing prostate cancer. So these result can potentially contribute to new goals for future treatments,” says Andreas Røder.
Head of the collaboration, Professor in oncogenetics Ros Eeles, from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, says:
“These results are the biggest step forward in the investigation of the genetic cause of prostate cancer. For the first time we have succeeded in identifying males who seem to have a particularly high risk of developing prostate cancer.
The study is part of a grand international research project in which new research methods have been tested on breast cancer, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer. With the new methods researchers can analyze blood and tissue samples and decode changes in a person's genes that may contribute to developing cancer.