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‘Prevalence of familial prostate cancer similar to Western countries’
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.12.18 14:39
  • Updated 2019.12.18 14:39
  • comments 0

Researchers at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) have confirmed that the prevalence of familial prostate cancer in Korea was 8.4 percent, which was similar to that of Western countries.

Professors Byun Seok-soo (left) and Kim Myung

In the West, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and has a high incidence. Recently, the incidence of prostate cancer has also increased rapidly in Korea. According to the national cancer registration statistics, the number of cases of prostate cancer has more than doubled from 4,527 cases in 2006 to 11,800 cases in 2016.

Although the cause of prostate cancer is not yet clear, age, race, and family history are the most important risk factors and a combination of environmental aspects.

Among them, previous studies on Westerners have reported that 9 to 13 percent of prostate cancers have a genetic family history. In contrast, the prevalence of hereditary prostate cancer in Asian patients, including Korea, is still unknown.

To confirm such a relationship, the team, led by Professor Byun Seok-soo at the hospital, analyzed 1,102 prostate cancer patients who visited SNUBH from September 2018 to March 2019 and prospectively evaluated the family history of prostate cancer and the presence of hereditary prostate cancer. Professor Kim Myung at Ewha Womans University Seoul Hospital also participated in the study.

As a result, the prevalence of familial prostate cancer was 8.4 percent (93 patients), and the prevalence of direct lineage family prostate cancer was 6.7 percent (74 patients).

Through this study, the team was able to confirm that the prevalence of familial prostate cancer among Koreans is similar to the incidence of familial prostate cancer of 9-13 percent in the West.

In the analysis of patient characteristics, the age of onset of familial prostate cancer patients was 63 years old on average, which was significantly lower than that of 66 years of non-family prostate cancer. However, there was no statistically significant difference in prognosis.

“Another interesting point is the comparison of the expression of genomic variants in patients with prostate cancer,” the team said. “Comparison with immunohistostaining revealed that the p53 mutation, known as the tumor suppressor gene protein, was more common in the familial prostate cancer group (1.6 percent) than in the non-family prostate cancer group (0.3 percent).”

The p53 protein is a genetic factor that inhibits the development of cancer. It plays a role in inhibiting tumor growth and, when mutated, raised the probability of cancer as it does not function as a tumor suppressor.

“In the absence of research on how genetic predisposition contributes to the development of prostate cancer in Koreans, this study demonstrates that genetic causes influence prostate cancer on a similar level to Westerners,” Professor Byun said. “Family history of prostate cancer is a definite risk factor for the development of prostate cancer, and recently published studies show that high-risk groups of prostate cancer can be found by genetic testing.”

Therefore, the development of risk-specific genetic tests for Koreans is needed, Byun added.

Byun also stressed that people with a family history of prostate cancer should receive early screening for prostate cancer.

“While regular people receive prostate cancer screening in their 50s, we recommend that people with a family history of prostate cancer start receiving their screening when they reach the age of 45,” Byun said.

The journal Prostate published the results of the study in its latest issue.


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