September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that this year 161,360 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and every 20 minutes another man will die from prostate cancer?

Prostate Cancer Awareness month is the perfect month to highlight hereditary cancer risk assessment (HCRA) and genetic testing for this disease.

Approximately 10 percent of all cancer is caused by a genetic mutation. Importantly, patients with mutations in BRCA genes are among those at highest risk for prostate cancer.

In fact, the overall risk of prostate cancer has been reported up to 3.8-fold for men who carry BRCA1 mutations and up to 8.6-fold for men who carry BRCA2 mutations. BRCA2 mutations also are associated with the most aggressive prostate cancers.

In February 2017, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) updated its genetic evaluation guidelines for men with prostate cancer.

The NCCN guidelines state that men with prostate cancer should be considered for genetic testing if they have more advanced prostate cancer (i.e., a Gleason score 7 or higher) and a family history of cancer defined as:
1. One close blood relative with ovarian or breast cancer at age 50 or younger OR
2. At least two relatives with breast, ovarian or prostate cancers at any age.

Additionally, unaffected men – meaning those who do not yet have cancer – also may consider genetic testing if their family history meets these same criteria.

In spite of these new guidelines, the vast majority of men with prostate cancer have never been tested for cancer-causing mutations, and doctors now are advising men to get tested.

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Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com