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Gene testing to boost male cancer treatment

Wednesday October 12th, 2011

Routine gene testing could help determine the best treatment for prostate cancer patients, researchers reported today.

Faults in the BRCA2 gene could mean the patient would benefit from targeted therapies such as PARP inhibitors. These drugs appear to be effective against several types of cancer linked to BRCA mutations.

Professor Ros Eeles from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK, and colleagues looked at the genes of almost 2,000 men with prostate cancer. They found that one per cent of patients below the age of 65 had a faulty BRCA2 gene.

Professor Eeles said: "Our study shows that men diagnosed with prostate cancer at a young age have a higher chance of carrying a faulty BRCA2 gene.

"With the arrival of PARP inhibiting drugs to target tumours with BRCA mutations, there may be benefits from routinely testing prostate cancer patients diagnosed before 65 for this gene fault.

"Prostate cancer patients with this gene fault also tend to have a poorer prognosis so we are also studying whether BRCA2 mutations are more common among patients with more aggressive disease. Ultimately, we hope to develop a full clinical picture of BRCA2-linked cancers, which will help us to work out the best way to treat these patients."

The research is published in the British Journal of Cancer. It was partly funded by Cancer Research UK.

Dr Lesley Walker, of Cancer Research UK, commented: "Once gene testing becomes faster and cheaper, this study suggests that a new range of treatments could potentially open up for some prostate cancer patients.

"It would be great if we could use PARP inhibitors to treat prostate cancer."

* A second study has found that taking vitamin E supplements can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

The report in the Journal of the American Medical Association came from a study of some 37,000 men in North America.

Researchers found a 17 per cent increase in rates of prostate cancer among men who took vitamin E in a study aimed at testing the theory it might reduce the risk.

BRCA2 is a moderate penetrance gene contributing to young onset prostate cancer: implications for genetic testing in prostate cancer patients. Kote-Jarai, Z. et al. The British Journal of Cancer, published online October 12 2011.

Journal of the American Medical Association October 12 2011;306[14]:1549-1556

Tags: Cancer | Diet & Food | Genetics | Menís Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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