Prostate Cancer Screening Improved by Complete Family History

In early 2015, experts predicted prostate cancer will continue to have a strong presence among American males and it has. The American Cancer Society predicts more than 230,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, it's increasingly important for men to stay educated about prostate cancer risk factors and screening opportunities.

When prostate cancer is diagnosed early, prostate cancer is highly treatable. But that doesn't make it any less dangerous or undeserving of less attention. It's reputation as a silent killer stems from the limited warning signs. Because of that, men must work closely with their healthcare providers to identify all possible red flags. 

It is important for men to know where they stand with prostate cancer. If your father or brother has prostate cancer, particularly if you also meet other risk criteria, make an appointment with a prostate cancer specialist. For high-risk men, that relationship should start long before diagnosis.


Prostate Cancer Key Facts

  • Average age at prostate cancer diagnosis is 66
  • African American men are 70 percent more likely than white Caucasian men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer
  • A family history of prostate cancer ups risk significantly, especially when more than one family member is diagnosed
  • Obesity and metabolic syndrome can increase risk by 57 percent; they can also signify increased prostate cancer tumor volume and recovery risks
  • Diet modifications can be effective in reducing risk, particularly adding cancer-fighters like lycopene, green tea, fish, cabbage, and coffee -- and limiting red meats, dairy, and high-fat foods
  • Prostate cancer screening tools continue to improve: genetic analysis may soon precede the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), digital rectal exam (DRE), and prostate biopsy process
  • The PSA test is the best way to establish a prostate health baseline; Dr. Samadi encourages men to get their first PSA blood test by age 40
  • Robotic prostate surgery remains a leading treatment option, with highly successful recovery and quality of life results when performed by an experienced surgeon

New Study: Complete Family History and Prostate Cancer Screening

A new study is showing the increasing importance of understand and having a complete family history of prostate cancer and the correlation to gauging personal risk with greater accuracy. 

Much research over the past few decades, has shown having a first, second or third-degree relative with prostate cancer raises a Caucasian man's risks of the disease. For Caucasian males, a complete family history of prostate cancer among close and distant relatives may gauge personal risk with greater accuracy.

If an extensive family history exists and men are aware, it provides a wider range to estimate individual risks that are potentially more accurate than those based on typical family health histories. Both maternal and paternal history are equally important.

Researchers analyzed the records of more than 635,000 men within a Utah population database, 18,105 had prostate cancers. They found a correlation between family relationship and age when prostate cancer is detected.

The key is having a complete map of affected relatives. This will push patients and give a leg up to specialists towards making more informed screening, monitoring and treatment decisions.

Not surprisingly, researchers also found that have a first-degree relative such as a father or brother with prostate cancer increased the risk from 2.5 to 7.7 times more likely to develop the disease.  Risks were also higher when a family member was diagnosed before age 50. Therefore if you have a close relative who had prostate cancer at a young age, you may be at risk for the same. 

Family history in combination with genetic data provides more information about disease risk than genetic data alone, the researchers noted.

Individualized care has always been the correct approach to diagnosing prostate cancer, but having a man's specific family history may prove to be inexpensive and efficient addition to identifying males at the highest risk for this disease. 

Past studies have also supported the connection and major role family history plays in the development of prostate cancer. 

For most men, prostate cancer is a concern after the age of 55. However in a recent study of early onset prostate cancer out of the University of Michigan, it was found that genetics play a factor in prostate cancer diagnosis and aggression.

Screen for Prostate Cancer

Know your family history

Early onset prostate cancer -- prostate cancer before the age of 55 -- was studied in comparison to prostate cancer at an older age. When comparing the two age groups, it was found that those with early onset prostate cancer diagnoses had a family history of the disease and also carried genes for a more aggressive form of the cancer. What was also noted was an increase in the number of cases over time. The number of prostate cancer diagnoses has increased from 5.6 cases per 100,000 in 1986 to 32 cases per 100,000 in 2008.

Early onset could mean more aggressive cancer

The study also noted the degree of prostate cancer related to age. It seems the younger the man, the more severe the prostate cancer and the higher the mortality rate. Men with prostate cancer who are aged 35 to 44 are nearly one and a half times more likely to die from the cancer than those aged 64 to 75. After the age of 80, the prognoses is again worse.

Linking back to the genetic factor, it appeared that many of the younger, more severe diagnoses had a family history.

In a recent review of the population impact of common familial cancers, Swedish researchers found that prostate cancer had the highest association between family history and disease risk. The assessment was based on the population attributable fraction (PAF), the preventable proportion of a disease in absence of a particular risk factor -- in this case, a family history of the cancer. Prostate cancer had the highest PAFs (13.94 percent), nearly double that of breast cancer (7.46 percent), .