Using data from Swedish men, the researchers identified five gene variants which when found together pointed to an increased risk of prostate cancer. Men in whom all five gene variants were found and who also had a family history of prostate cancer accounted for 46 percent of all cases of the disease.
A man with all the risk factors was nine times more likely than others to develop prostate cancer. The risk is comparable with the increased risk run by smokers of contracting lung cancer.
An American company is now developing a genetic test based on the findings.
“It should become reality in one or two years,” said Professor Henrik Grönberg at the Karolinska Institute.
The new test should reduce the number of men who are subjected to invasive and uncomfortable biopsies. Combining the results of the PSA analysis and the genetic test could determine which men really need to have biopsies.
Even before the development of a commercially-available test, men in Stockholm who have blood tests for the standard PSA analysis will be asked for permission to have their blood tested for the five genetic variants.
The study compared 3,000 Swedish men with prostate cancer with 2,000 healthy men. The results are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.