Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the second cause of cancer deaths amongst them.
The main problem with prostate cancer detection is that often there are no symptoms that are different from the benign prostate enlargement that affects many men as they grow older. Moreover the symptoms may present late after the tumor has spread outside the prostate.
Prostate cancers are not all equal. Some are very aggressive while others are not and may benefit from a wait and see approach before subjecting a patient to aggressive treatment. In the past there has been no way to easily differentiate between these different types, but a new method has been developed by The Institute of Cancer Research in London.
They discovered 17 extra genes that increase the chances of carriers to develop the disease. That makes a total 23 genes that can now be tested. Some of these genes carry up to a 10 fold increased risk for prostate cancer. Most about 3 fold increased risk. One was up to 70 fold.
The new test can be done by taking a blood sample or a saliva sample. So it is minimally invasive. And anyone can easily be tested.
If a man tests positive they can be closely monitored by their doctor for signs of developing prostate cancer. Those that test negative will need just the normal routine screening tests without the extra close monitoring.
In those with existing cancer it will give the doctors an idea of the likely progression of the disease in patients and tailor their therapy accordingly.
I hope the tests that detect these newly discovered genes will soon be available in Bahrain in an affordable form for all men to be tested at their Family Doctor.