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the patrick c. walsh prostate cancer research fund
Is Active Surveillance Right For You? What Do Your Genes Say?
In recent research, William Isaacs, Ph.D., and colleagues have shown that some genes nobody expected to be involved with prostate cancer — such as the hereditary breast cancer genes BRCA1 and 2 — may in fact, be lethal. These are faulty “mismatch repair” genes, and they can be inherited from your mother and father, and by your sons and daughters. These genes may be the reason why some men who otherwise appear to be perfect candidates for active surveillance go on to develop high-grade cancer.
These faulty genes may be the reason why some men who otherwise appear to be perfect candidates for active surveillance go on to develop high-grade cancer.
“Most men with prostate cancer have small, almost normal appearing cancers which are confined to the prostate,” says Isaacs. “Most of these cancers are destined to remain non-life threatening even without treatment,” and for these men, active surveillance is a safe alternative to surgery or radiation therapy. However, “some men suspected of having only low-risk disease will later be found to have high-grade cancers. These men may even lose their curability window because they delay treatment.” Is there any way to identify these men? Isaacs believes these DNA repair genes — genes that are known, and that can be identified in a simple blood test — may be the key. “Recently, we found that inherited mutations in DNA repair genes can significantly increase a man’s risk of developing lethal prostate cancer.” With urologist H. Ballentine Carter, M.D., and support from the Patrick C. Walsh Prostate Cancer Research Fund, Isaacs will look at the DNA of men who appear to be excellent candidates for active surveillance, and see if they carry any of these faulty genes. “We believe this information can be developed into a powerful tool to help determine which men can safely undergo active surveillance, and which men need to have their cancer treated immediately.”