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Medicine Science

Test For Prostate Cancer Gene Soon To Be Available 72

Tiger4 writes "CNN reports on a simple test to determine the presence of genes linked to Prostate Cancer. These five genes, if present, can increase the risk of prostate cancer up to nine times. 'More than 25,000 American men will die from prostate cancer this year. But prostate cancer can be treated successfully if the disease is caught early. A blood test that can detect whether a man is at high risk for developing prostate cancer is on the horizon. The study was published in the February 28, 2008, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.' It turns out the company actually wants to test saliva, making the test significantly easier and more convenient. Compare this to the tests available for BRCA, the so called Breast Cancer genes. Finding you have the gene can be devastating, but knowing well in advance of developing cancer allows many more options to be considered."
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Test For Prostate Cancer Gene Soon To Be Available

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  • Relevant! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Hurricane78 ( 562437 )

    Compare this to the tests available for BRCA, the so called Breast Cancer genes. Finding you have the gene can be devastating, but knowing well in advance of developing cancer allows many more options to be considered.

    Very relevant for the typical manboobs wearing Slashdotter. ;)

    • ...if you
      1) include yourself.
      2) make it very obvious that this is humor.

      Or is it just someone having problems with being overweight, and being angry at me for it instead of at himself. ;)
      Ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away, you know...

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      Actually, BRCA is very relevant. The same gene is believed to play a role in prostate cancer.

    • Canser is a form of civilization of the body!

      Taking cystic canser, as an example: Fibrous lines joining and or forming additional cysts. Lines and cysts spreading toxins into the body.

      A road map; diagram of civilization: Lanes; Roads; Highways, joining: Villages; Towns; Cities, all of which produce mountains of Techinlogical toxic waste!

      Ci-vil-ize-ation: The canser, killing Planet Earth! As it does the human body! All of it caused by Human Error!

      Isaiah 3:12 As for my people, children are their oppres

  • by Anonymous Coward
    How silly. A simple test already exists: have any of the males in the past three generations in your family died from prostate cancer?

    If the answer is "Yes", get checked regularly.
    • If it was that simple, I dont think that there would be 25000 deaths from prostate cancer every year.
    • If you're adopted, you can't answer this question.
    • but even in the last 50 years men died from other things like heart attacks and stress from hard work and smoking first. You may be the first person in your family to live long enough to get prostrate cancer, or at least to have it be the thing that kills you.

  • by pgolik ( 526039 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @07:01AM (#26310573) Homepage
    Just remember that these are not genes (or, more correctly - alleles) that determine, in an absolute manner, whether you'll get the cancer or not (unlike, say in the case of the mutant gene for Cystic Fibrosis). They are variants that, when present alone or in combination increase the risk. It's a bit like with insurance - when you're a twenty-something, living in a large city, and want to insure a sports car, you'll pay a greater premium than a middle aged small-town father insuring a minivan, because the risk that you'll have an accident is several times higher. But that doesn't mean that all urban twenty-somethings in sports car will crash (in fact, most of them won't), and it doesn't mean that the minivan driving fathers never crash. It't the same with the association of genetic variants with cancer - there is no causative relationship - there is only an increase in risk. Which means that the test can be informative (to a varying degree), but is never definitive (unless it's a simple Mendelian trait, like CF, which the common cancers are not). Read this informative post on The Evolution & Medicine Review [] for a sobering view on genetic association in complex traits. Also, if you follow the link to the company page you'll see (in the News section) that the main paper (in NEJM) reporting the association was a study done on the Swedish population, and it's by no means certain, that it'll hold for other population backgrounds. All this doesn't mean that it's worthless, just an advice to take it with a grain of salt.
    • Yes, now there can be a quick, simple test that can be administered to add another reason for why your application for insurance will be denied.

      Of course, you will not be told that it is based on genetic testing.

  • Holy cow! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Test For Prostate Cancer Gene Soon To Be Available on Saturday January 03, @05:13AM

    That really WAS soon!

  • The case of the British couple who had their daughter tested for the presence of mutant breast cancer genes is not representative of all genetic testing for breast cancer genes. This case involves pre-implantation diagnosis, and if the child was carrying the mutant alleles for the breast cancer genes, the only option to avoid having a child carrying the mutations would have been to abort the foetus (or carry it to term, but knowing that it carried the mutant alleles). But this isn't the usual way of testing

  • You may be "devastated" to find out that 70% percent of 70 year old (men) have prostate cancer. 90 year old men nearly *all* have prostate cancer. Talking about genes which make it 90 times more probable to develop cancer doesn't make sense. Maybe it is about early prostate cancer? Or did almost all of us get this gift from god?
  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @08:58AM (#26311001) Homepage
    And masturbate a lot. []
    • Brilliant!

      What a lame excuse for looking at Internet porn and wanking . . . our girlfriends and wives will never swallow that one!

      Um, oh, sorry, no pun intended.

      Maybe this solution just needs more publicity. Back in the 90's they had a "Million Man March" in Washington, DC.

      Maybe we need a "Million Man Wank" in Washington, DC this year to raise (huh, huh) awareness.

      The Founding Fathers would definitely be amused.

    • by epine ( 68316 )

      I once read a study which claimed that many men tend to "freshen the troops" in the hours leading up to a fling after a brief (e.g. week long) separation from their girl friend. This is claimed to improve sperm fitness. It doesn't surprise me at all that there is a best before date. Biology tends not to leave major biological systems in parking orbits, lest they not be in good working order when the time comes, whatever the Calvinists might think.

  • I am far more keen on the traditional digital examination thanks.
  • Gee... I wonder how health and life insurance companies will react to a test that will make people they insure - appear to be about to be dieing from cancer?
    At least on paper and where their insurance premiums and insurance contracts are concerned.

    • I think there are already laws on the books that insurance companies can't use data collected this way against your policy. After all, if you are checked that you might get the disease, then they can run a simple test and catch the problem when it's cheap and doesn't require expensive operations and chemo.

      • You're right, they "can't use data collected this way against your policy," but they can and will use it against you when deciding whether or not to provide you with health insurance in the first place. Not everyone gets their health insurance through their employer; some of us have to purchase it on our own, and believe me, they use whatever they can against you.
  • One thing to keep in mind... I think any type of genetic testing or screening should be done anonymously. If you test positively for being at risk for any disease, and that information is entered into a computer, there is a risk that information can be used against you later. Insurance companies and employers would love nothing more than to discriminate against people who have POTENTIAL problems. Even worse, a genetic fingerprint can make its way into some security database without your knowledge or con

    • Insurance companies ... would love nothing more than to discriminate against people who have POTENTIAL problems.

      Of course they would. That's their job. (If by discriminate against you mean charge a higher premium) If they found out that teenage drivers have a higher risk of being involved in an automobile accident, then they would charge teenage drivers a higher premium... Oh wait, they have, so they do. Smokers are at higher risk of lung cancer than the general population: higher premiums. If it is tw
      • The point of insurance is to SHARE risk, not to discriminate. If everyone paid premiums exactly based on perfect knowledge of risk, then everyone would pay exactly what they end up costing.... so there is no point to have insurance in the first place; just open up a savings account (which one should do, anyways).

        The problem with discrimination is that it is a slippery slope of what to pick and where to stop. Of course no system is perfect, just something to think about.

        • Exactly! Share the risk. If Anna is twice as likely to develop cancer than Bob, then in order to share the risk, you have to charge Anna twice as much. That evens out the chance of payout per dollar spent. If you charge everyone the same, then Anna has twice as much of a chance of a payout than Bob. Her dollar essentially buys more coverage. THAT's discrimination.
          • That isn't sharing risk, that is *assigning* risk. The problem with that theory is that it isn't fair.

            Example- let's say a study shows that people that drink alcohol have a higher overall risk for health costs. So how does one fairly discriminate for health insurance? You can't. Instead, an application might say "do you drink alcohol?". How do you answer that? "yes"? "sometimes?" "never?". The factors are far too complex to simplify; it depends on your weight, your genetics, the exact amount, the f

  • There are already tests that check for some genetic markers that increase the possibility of prostate cancer. An example is [], if you take their test you get a genetic profile about yourself with information about a few (34) known diseases and traits. One of them is prostate cancer [].

    It may of course very well be that they have developed an even better indicator of the risk you have of getting prostate cancer... but the article made it sound like this was a completely new thing.

  • The problem (Score:4, Informative)

    by Budenny ( 888916 ) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:40AM (#26311769)

    This is an issue for every man over 65 or so. Its an issue for a some men between 50 and 65, and for very few under 50. But if you have a father, its going to be an issue for him.

    The problem is that you can diagnose the condition fairly well. You can do PSA tests, particularly free PSA, and you can take biopsies. The thing you can't do is predict very well from these tests how vigorous the cancer is. Now, this might not matter if the treatments were fairly benign, and if they were highly sucessful. But they are not. The side effects of all physical treatments, including radiation, are considerable and very unpleasant in a majority of cases.

    They are better than dying of course - death from metastized prostate cancer is very painful and unpleasant. But the problem is, if your cancer is discovered by routine PSA screeing, you don't then know whether what has been discovered is a cancer that you will live with until 90 without noticing, or if its one which if not treated will kill you in a few years. Almost all men die with prostate cancer. Few die of it.

    This gives rise to the problem about screening. It could be that the effects of screening will simply be to treat more people who would be better off untreated. So the discovery of a genetic marker is potentially a great step forward. If it can pick people to screen who are really at risk of a galloping form, it will lead to more treatment of those who would benefit, and less of those who don't really need it.

    For what it is worth, I had to research this question for someone a few years ago. I came to the conclusion that surgery and radiation and cryo are all dubious in terms of efficacy and very poor in terms of side effects - impotence, incontinence, in the case of radiation, collateral damage to other tissue. My own conclusion was that conformal radiation is the best of the physical measures, but probably the best overall is intermittent hormone ablation.

    The cancer grows in the presence of testosterone. If this is blocked, either by the administration of testosterone blocking hormones, or by physical castration, the cancer will cease to grow and will shrink. PSA will fall. Unfortunately after a while, the cancer becomes hormone refractory - it learns to grow in the absence of hormone. This is why hormonal treatments are only temporary. However, if you then turn on testosterone again, the hormone supposedly will be unable to handle it, and will shrink again.

    This is what I would do if afflicted. But I know of no studies showing this works, and I've never met anyone who has undergone it. Apparently what you do is total hormone blockade with drugs for about a year or 15 months, then stop and let testosterone production resume. As soon as PSA rises again, go back on the drugs. Its probably very risky. But the alternatives are not very appetizing either.

    This is not like appendicitis. Its one of those things where no alternative is good, and what to do depends on your judgment of risks and rewards. Very tough. My friend by the way had a biopsy. He was free of cancer. But the act of taking the biopsy under general anaesthetic was not risk free, and produced a total urinary blockage. He was then permanently catheterized, which gradually took a toll on him because of repeated infections, and he ended up dying with MRSA of a failing heart. Whether to find out for sure if you have it is not a simple decision.

    • Hmmm I'd hate to think what the rest of your body would be like after going from 0 to 100 and back again on the testosterone tap every few months.

      I'm imagining very hairy saggy man-boobs :(

      • by Budenny ( 888916 )
        Its not every few months. The time between recurrences is said to be in years. Its certainly true that total cessation of testosterone must be unpleasant. Though probably bearable if you know its only for a year or so. It has its own dangers also, notably osteoporosis. However, its not that its good. Its whether it may be the best of the alternatives.
    • My friend by the way had a biopsy. He was free of cancer. But the act of taking the biopsy under general anaesthetic was not risk free, and produced a total urinary blockage.

      I'm very sorry to read about your friend's bad luck. I can tell you, though, from personal experience, that having it done with just a local has its own drawbacks. I was told that it might sting a little. Long before it was over, I was screaming in pain loudly enough for them to hear me in the waiting room. When it was over, I was

  • The "old" test was much more enjoyable -- especially since my doctor is female!

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