Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found that men who develop prostate cancer face an increased risk of having an aggressive tumour if they carry a so-called breast cancer gene mutation.
According to researchers, the findings could help to guide prostate-cancer patients and their physicians in choosing treatment options.
The study, involving 979 men with prostate cancer and 1251 men without the disease, looked at whether participants carried mutations for either of two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Women carrying mutations in either gene face an increased risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both.
The researchers looked for the presence of three particular mutations-two in BRCA1 and one in BRCA2.
The researchers found that having any of the three mutations did not increase a man''s risk of developing prostate cancer.
But for those men who did develop prostate cancer, two of the mutations-BRCA1-185delAG and the mutated BRCA2 gene-increased the risk that tumours would be aggressive.
Specifically, prostate cancer patients with aggressive tumours were 3.2 times more likely to carry the BRCA2 gene mutation than were men in the control group.
Carriers of the BRCA1-185delAG mutation were also at increased risk of having an aggressive prostate cancer.
"Our large study shows conclusively that prostate cancer patients with either the BRCA2 gene mutation or the BRCA1-185delAG mutation are more susceptible to aggressive cancers than people without that mutation," said Robert Burk, M.D., professor of paediatrics (genetics) at Einstein and senior author of the study.
The study is published in today's issue of Clinical Cancer Research.