It is important for patients with prostate cancer to know if they have any genetic mutations — such as BRCA — that are causing their diagnosis, explained Dr. Walter M. Stadler.
Stadler is the Fred C. Buffett Professor of Medicine, Dean for Clinical Research and senior advisor to Comprehensive Cancer Center Director at University of Chicago Medicine. In a recent interview with CURE®, he explained the importance of being aware of BRCA mutations.
According to Stadler, less than 10% of patients with prostate cancer have an inherited BRCA mutation, meaning that they were born with the mutation, which was passed down from their parent or parents. For this groups of patients, knowing the mutational status not only can help in treatment decisions, but can also be important to inform other family members about cancer risk, as BRCA mutations are associated with an increased risk of prostate, breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers.
BRCA mutations can also happen in the cancer cells themselves, and not occur anywhere else in the body. Stadler mentioned that while these types of mutations do not pose a risk of being passed on to family members, it is still important to know about them because they too can have treatment implications.
We have what we call germline genetics, which is what you’re born with. And if you’re born with some of these mutations (such as BRCA), you have a higher risk of (developing) prostate cancer. And you can also develop things like male breast cancer, which exists, and pancreatic cancer. Obviously, for family members who inherit these mutations or germline abnormalities, (they) have the same risks. (For) women, (that also includes) breast and ovarian (cancer).
You can also develop these BRCA mutations in the cancer itself. You’re not necessarily born with them, but they are cancer-specific mutations, and they have similar implications for treatment, not for our inherent hits, but for treatment in regard to the drugs we might use. So (knowing about) both (types of mutations) are important.
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