How Genomic Testing Can Help Assess Inherited Risk of Prostate Cancer

Sep 14, 2023

Welcome to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month! At MapmyGenome™, we believe that informed individuals make healthier choices, so let‘s delve into the world of prostate cancer. 

Understanding Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer might not be a dinner table conversation, but it‘s essential to grasp the basics. The prostate, a walnut-sized gland below the bladder in men, can sometimes develop cancerous cells. While early-stage prostate cancer often remains silent, it may manifest through various symptoms as it progresses.

Recognizing the Signs

Signs of prostate cancer can be subtle but are worth noting:

Frequent Urination: If you‘re making more nighttime trips to the bathroom, pay attention.
Changes in Urine Flow: Experiencing a weaker stream or intermittent flow could be a sign.
Discomfort in Urination or Intercourse: Pain or burning sensations merit a visit to the doctor.
Incontinence: Losing control over your bladder or bowels is a red flag.
Intimacy Issues: Painful ejaculation or erectile dysfunction might be related.
Unusual Discharge: Blood in your urine or semen should not be ignored.
Painful Aches: Discomfort in the lower back, hips, or chest can signal advanced stages.

Risk Factors and Causes

The exact cause of prostate cancer remains uncertain, but certain risk factors can increase your likelihood:

Age: Risk increases with age, with most diagnoses occurring after 65.
Family History: A family history of prostate cancer raises your risk.
Race/Ethnicity: African-American men face a higher risk.
Genetics: Specific gene mutations can increase susceptibility.
Lifestyle Factors: Smoking, obesity, and certain dietary choices may play a role.

Diagnosis and Tests

Early detection is key to effective treatment. Here are the primary methods:

Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): A physical examination of the prostate through the rectum, helping identify unusual lumps or hard areas.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test: Measures PSA levels, which can indicate cancer or benign conditions.
Imaging: MRI or transrectal ultrasound can provide images of the prostate, assisting in diagnosis.
Biopsy: A definitive diagnosis is obtained through a tissue sample tested for cancer. Genetic tests may be performed to guide treatment decisions.

Genetic Testing in Prostate Cancer

Genetic testing has become a game-changer, especially when you‘ve got a family history of prostate cancer. Here‘s why it‘s a big deal:

Uncovering Hidden Risks: Genetic testing can spot those sneaky gene variations that can increase your prostate cancer risk. If your family has a history of multiple cancers or cases of prostate cancer occurring before the age of 60, it‘s advisable to consult with a genetic counselor to explore the potential risks associated with gene variations. This is the kind of information you want to uncover.
Personalized Health Roadmap: Imagine having a GPS for your health. That‘s what your genetic profile can be. It guides your medical team in crafting a plan that‘s tailored to you, from screening schedules to treatment strategies.
It‘s a Family Affair: This isn‘t just about you. Your genetic makeup can impact your family too. If you‘ve got a gene variation, your relatives might be at risk. Sharing this knowledge is like giving them a heads-up in the game of health.
Treatment Clues: Think of genes as your personal cheat codes. Some gene mutations can give your healthcare provider insights into which treatments might work best for you. So, when your healthcare provider knows your genetic playbook, they can choose the most effective game plan.

In the world of genes and genetic testing, think of genetic counselors as your trusted guides. They‘re experts at helping you and your family understand your genetic information, figure out any risks, and make smart choices. They look at your family history and genes, provide support during testing, explain what the results mean, help you talk about it with your family, and even work with your healthcare team to use your genetic information for better treatments. So, if you‘re thinking about genetic testing, chatting with a genetic counselor is a clever move to make sense of how your genes can affect your health.

And here at MapmyGenome™, we‘ve got your back! We offer tests like the Genomepatri™ and the Hereditary Cancer Panel and our team of experienced genetic counselors are ready to provide you with excellent insights and guidance. Reach out to Mapmygenome’s genetic counselors to learn more about genetic testing in prostate cancer. Your health journey just got a whole lot clearer!


Management and Treatment

The choice of treatment depends on the cancer‘s stage, your overall health, and personal preferences. Options include:

Active Surveillance: Monitoring slow-growing tumors without immediate treatment.
Surgery: Removal of the prostate gland (prostatectomy).
Radiation Therapy: Using high-energy rays to target and kill cancer cells.
Hormone Therapy: Lowering hormone levels to inhibit cancer growth.
Chemotherapy: Medications to slow cancer growth or kill cells.
Immunotherapy: Enhancing the immune system‘s ability to combat cancer.

Preventing Prostate Cancer

While you can‘t guarantee prevention, these steps can reduce your risk:

Regular Screenings: Consult your healthcare provider for screening recommendations based on your risk factors.
Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy weight, engage in regular exercise, and opt for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Quit smoking: If you smoke, consider a smoking cessation program.

In closing, during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we encourage you to stay informed, be proactive about your health, and support one another. Early detection and healthy living can make a significant difference in managing this condition. Remember, as John Diamond wisely said, ‘Cancer is a word, not a sentence.‘ 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not exhaustive by any means. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, procedure, or treatment, whether it is a prescription medication, over-the-counter drug, vitamin, supplement, or herbal alternative.