Prostate cancer patients with a specific gene mutation should be offered early and aggressive treatment on the NHS, even if they would normally be classified as low risk, according to a new study.
Prostate cance ris the most common cancer in men in the UK
With over 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK.
Progression of prostate cancer is often slow, and not all men require immediate treatment. In fact, some low-risk sufferers may live with the disease for a lifetime without any symptoms.
However, a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that prostate cancer patients with a particular gene mutation called BRCA2 could benefit from immediate surgery or radiotherapy, even if they are normally classed as low-risk.
Around one in every 100 men with prostate cancer will have the BRCA2 mutation.
Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust looked at the medical records of prostate cancer patients. 61 of the men had the BRCA2 mutation, and 18 had a similar gene mutation called BRCA1. They also looked at over 1,900 patients with neither mutation.
The study found that patients with BRCA2 mutations lived an average of 6.5 years after diagnosis, whilst non-carriers lived for 12.9 years. As well as having poorer survival rates, BRCA2 carriers were also more likely to develop aggressive tumours that spread quickly.
Lead researcher Professor Ros Eeles said: "It is clear from our study that prostate cancers linked to inheritance of the BRCA2 cancer gene are more deadly than other types.
"It must make sense to start offering affected men immediate surgery or radiotherapy, even for early-stage cases that would otherwise be classified as low-risk.”
The BRCA2 gene is linked to hereditary breast, prostate and ovarian cancer. Men with a significant family history of these cancers can be offered testing for BRCA1/2 at diagnosis of prostate cancer. However, testing is not routinely offered in the UK.
The scientists hope that earlier treatment will benefit men with inherited cancer genes, and are planning to test the theory in a clinical trial.
If you want access to cancer treatment on your private health insurance policy, look for a plan with comprehensive cancer cover.
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