July 6, 2018

Are you at risk? What if the answer came from your saliva…

It may seem inconceivable that a simple saliva test can tell you your risk of developing prostate cancer. But it is possible. And the reason is simple: your saliva contains all your genetic background.

A group of scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London has initiated a clinical trial of a saliva-based DNA test to identify with greater clarity men at the greatest risk of developing prostate cancer.

It is estimated that 5 to 15% of prostate cancers can be attributed to the inheritance of genetic mutations, but the discovery of the genes involved in this hereditary predisposition has proved extremely difficult. Unlike other common cancers, where a small number of susceptibility genes account for a large proportion of high-risk families, it is thought that the hereditary predisposition to prostate cancer can be caused by a large number of different genes.

Thus, scientists have discovered several potential genes for predisposition to prostate cancer and research is underway to confirm or refute the role played by these genes in the development of prostate cancer.

The ICR trial follows up on the findings of a study published in the journal Nature Genetics of more than 140,000 men that identified 63 new genetic variations in the DNA code that increase the risk of prostate cancer.

"The British study broke new ground in prostate cancer research," Dr. Jonathan Simons, chief executive officer of the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), the largest nonprofit prostate cancer organization in the world, told Healthline.

"But there is much more to learn about younger men who present with more aggressive earlier cancers," said Simons, a medical oncologist and internationally recognized leader in prostate cancer research.

Dr. Iain Frame, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said in a statement, "This new research could help men to understand their individual genetic risk of prostate cancer, which could prompt them to speak to their GP about the disease."

Saliva tests for prostate cancer patients are a significant development in what has been dubbed precision medicine, which simply means the customization of treatments for individual patients based on their genetic makeup.

Story to be continued…


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Pages of our site that might interest you
Want to know more? Just click on one of the links below.
Am I at risk
Signs and symptoms

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Each week, we publish a blog article. Here are a few for you.
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PSA test: Yes, no, maybe?
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Sources and references
PCF.org

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