Prostate cancer risk increases with familial disease

May 13, 2010

The risk of prostate cancer increases with the number of directly related family members who are affected by the disease, researchers at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg reported.

The risk of prostate cancer increases with the number of directly related family members who are affected by the disease, researchers at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg reported.

Kari Hemminki, MD, and colleagues studied 26,651 prostate cancer patients, 5,623 of whom came from families in which the disease had been previously diagnosed. Results showed that men up to 65 years of with three affected brothers have a risk that is 23 times higher than that of the control group (men without affected family members). Men between 65 and 74 years whose father was or is the only one affected have a risk that is increased by 1.8 times and, thus, the lowest risk elevation in the familial cancer group. The researchers recognized a general tendency that the younger affected relatives were at the time of diagnosis, the higher the personal risk.

The researchers also investigated prostate cancer mortality in relation to the number of affected family members and found that the more direct relatives are affected, the higher is a person’s risk of dying from prostate cancer. Thus, according to the team, the risk increase is real and not due to more frequent early detection examinations.

"Our results provide a good guidance for doctors," said Dr. Hemminki. "If a man has several affected relatives who may even have been diagnosed at a young age, then his personal risk is substantially increased."

Results from the study were published online in European Urology (Feb. 13, 2010).