Blood test can gauge prostate cancer risk

Thanks to Genomic research, a simple blood test can be used to determine a man’s relative risk of developing prostate cancer. That’s because blood work can detect five genetic variants that, according to an international study, are independently associated with the disease, but that, when combined, have a strong cumulative effect of risk.

Compared to having none of these genetic variants, researchers write in the New England Journal of Medicine, having four increases the risk of developing prostate cancer by 400 to 500 percent. Family history is added to the equation to make six risk factors. Having at least five of six factors increases the baseline risk by more than 900 percent.

“Our finding provides an opportunity to supplement the well-established risk factors (age, race, and family history) by looking at inherited variants,” says seniors researcher Dr. Jianfeng Xu of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, in North Carolina. And being aware of the cumulative effect of these genetic variants, say Xu, “could substantially improve physicians’ ability to assess risk and determine the need for more aggressive screening.”

The prostate is walnut-sized gland located just below the bladder in men. The prostate keeps urine and semen flowing in the proper direction, and produces a component of semen called prostatic fluid.

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