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Genetic Testing for Prostate Cancer

Many cancers including prostate cancer can either develop from an acquired gene mutation (non-hereditary), or a hereditary gene mutation. Although most instances of prostate cancer are thought to be non-hereditary, there is always the chance of prostate cancer resulting from a hereditary gene mutation. Thanks to advancements in technology that allow for early detection, including genetic testing, men diagnosed with prostate cancer have a better prognosis now than ever before! This is your guide to everything you need to know about genetic testing for prostate cancer. 

What is Genetic Testing for Prostate Cancer?

Genetic testing for prostate cancer is a specific type of medical testing that looks for and identifies mutations in certain genes to determine whether or not an individual is at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer based on his genetic make-up. There are four genes that are identified as being linked to prostate cancer and analyzed as a part of genetic testing. These genes are:

  • BRCA1
  • BRCA2
  • ATM
  • CHEK2
  • And More.

Genetic testing for prostate cancer can also give valuable insight as to whether there is a mutation that can be passed on to offspring. Although this service is available to everyone, there are certain groups of people who are inherently at a higher risk of carrying a mutation and therefore highly recommended to get tested. 

Who Should Get Genetic Testing for Prostate Cancer?

It is estimated that 5-10 percent of diagnosed prostate cancers are hereditary. If you meet one or more of the following criteria, you should consider genetic testing for prostate cancer for both you and your family. 

  • Men who have been diagnosed with localized prostate cancer (cancer confined to the prostate)
  • At least one relative with breast or ovarian cancer who was diagnosed before the age of 50
  • Two or more family members who have been diagnosed with breast, ovarian, or late-stage prostate cancer at any age.
  • Men who have been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body)
  • Men with at least one relative who has tested positive for a gene mutation known to be associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer
  • Once again, it is important to reiterate that you do not have to fall into one or more of these categories in order to get tested. Anyone is welcome to get genetically tested for prostate cancer. 

How Does Genetic Testing for Prostate Cancer Work?

Genetic counseling is highly recommended as the first step to genetic testing for prostate cancer. A genetic counselor will conduct a thorough review of your personal medical history as well as your family's medical history on both sides. He or she will then be able to recommend whether or not genetic testing is warranted based on the medical information provided. 

Genetic counselors can not only tell you whether or not you are a good candidate for genetic testing but can also discuss the pros and cons of genetic testing. It is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. No matter, the results, they can take an emotional toll and have a significant impact on future life decisions. In addition to providing relief, genetic testing can also cause a degree of anxiety if results are inconclusive. However, a huge benefit of genetic testing is that it can help you make significant and well-informed future life decisions for both you and your family. 

If Genetic Testing is Right for You, What Are The Next Steps? 

Let's take a look at the next steps you will need to take if you decide that genetic testing for prostate cancer is right for you and your family.

  1. Schedule an appointment with one of our licensed nurse practitioners or genetic counselors
  2. Complete a short online assessment before your appointment so that the most appropriate gene panels are selected for you based on the information provided. It is important to be completely truthful about the questions asked.
  3. Blood samples are taken and sent to the lab for analysis.
  4. Upon the arrival of your results, your genetic counselor will go over the results with you over the phone and make sure you thoroughly understand what they mean as it relates to your risk for developing prostate cancer. 
  5. If the results come back positive, an in-person follow-up appointment will be scheduled to discuss further options. Additional counseling is also available if desired.   

What Do the Genetic Testing Results Mean? 

There are three different possible results of genetic testing for prostate cancer. The first is a negative result, which means there weren't any gene mutations found that would place you at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. The second is a positive result, which means gene mutations were found that put you at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer in the future. It is important to understand that a negative result does not guarantee that you will not develop non-hereditary prostate cancer in the future, just as a positive result does not guarantee that you will develop hereditary prostate cancer. It is simply an indication of your risk compared to the normal population. 

There is a third result, which is the possibility of receiving inconclusive results that are neither positive nor negative. This result can understandably create anxiousness. If this happens to be the case, genetic counseling is available to help you and your family understand and have a plan for the future.

The Leader in Genetic Testing

When it comes to genetic testing services, you only want the best service for you and your family. Arizona Oncology offers just that!

Arizona Oncology proudly offers a personalized, confidential risk-assessment program for individuals interested in genetic testing. You do not have to be a current patient of Arizona Oncology in order to take advantage of our genetic testing services. Our goal is to provide guidance through every step of the process from deciding whether or not genetic testing is right for you to the meaning of the results and further action if warranted. Contact us today for more information. 

Arizona Oncology - The US Oncology Network