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When it comes to Prostate Cancer, Your Family is Key

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When it comes to Prostate Cancer, Your Family is Key

Mar 10, 2015

Knowing your family history for prostate cancer can help you get appropriate screening according to Lisa Cannon-Albright at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. She is the senior author on a recent study that finds that cases of prostate cancer, even in distant second and third degree relatives, can increase your risk for the disease.

Episode Transcript

Kim: Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, but how do you know if you are one of those men with a high risk of developing the disease? That story is up next on The Scope.

Announcer: With the latest news and research from Huntsman Cancer Institute this is the Cancer Care Update.

Kim: A new study finds that when it comes to prostate cancer, your family matters. You could be at higher risk not only if your father had it, but even if a relative you have never even met had it. Lisa Cannon-Albright at the Huntsman Cancer Institute is the senior author on the study published in The Journal Prostate.

Lisa: My goal was to try to use available information to estimate a particular man's risk of prostate cancer, and the data that I wanted to use was his own family history.

Kim: Instead of asking thousands of men their family history, Cannon-Albright and colleagues used a resource called The Utah Population Database. It contains a computerized genealogy linked to medical information for over 7.3 million Utahans including those that have cancer. She says what they found was that having a first degree relative such as a father, brother or son, doubles your risk for getting prostate cancer. But surprisingly risk also increases by having a second or third degree relative such as an uncle, grandfather, cousin, or even great-grandfather with the disease.

Lisa: Most people would agree that if you have a first degree relative affected with prostate cancer that your risk must be higher than it is for other men in the population. But we found that second degree relatives and even third degree relatives, if you have them in your family history constellation you are also at increased risk.

Woman: So even just one?

Lisa: Yes, even just one.

Kim: Cannon-Albright says Doctors should not only pay attention to the men on your father's side of the family, but also on your mother's.

Lisa: The relative risk was exactly the same whether the family history was on your mother's side or your father's side.

Kim: Knowing your family history and whether this increases your risk for prostate cancer will help your doctor develop a health monitoring plan specific for you. For Cancer Care Update, I'm Kim Schuske with Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Announcer: For more resources from the cancer care and research experts, Huntsman Cancer Institute, go to The Cancer Care Update is a co-production with University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.