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Endocr Relat Cancer. 2003 Jun;10(2):225-59.

Prostate cancer susceptibility genes: lessons learned and challenges posed.

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  • 1Cancer Genomics Laboratory, Oncology and Molecular Endocrinology Research Center, CHUL Research Center and Laval University, Quebec City, Canada G1V 4G2.


In most developed countries, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed malignancy in men. The extent to which the marked racial/ethnic difference in its incidence rate is attributable to screening methods, environmental, hormonal and/or genetic factors remains unknown. A positive family history is among the strongest epidemiological risk factors for prostate cancer. It is now well recognized that the role of candidate genetic markers to this multifactorial malignancy is more difficult to identify than the identification of other cancer susceptibility genes. Indeed, despite the localization of several susceptibility loci, there has been limited success in identifying high-risk susceptibility genes analogous to BRCA1 or BRCA2 for breast and ovarian cancer. Nonetheless, three strong candidate susceptibility genes have been described, namely ELAC2 (chromosome 17p11/HPC2 region), 2'-5'-oligoadenylate-dependent ribonuclease L (RNASEL), a gene in the HPC1 region, and Macrophage Scavenger Receptor 1 (MSR1), a gene within a region of linkage on chromosome 8p. Additional studies using larger cohorts are needed to fully evaluate the role of these susceptibility genes in prostate cancer risk. It is also of interest to mention that a significant percentage of men with early-onset prostate cancer harbor germline mutation in the BRCA2 gene thus confirming its role as a high-risk prostate cancer susceptibility gene. Although initial segregation analyses supported the hypothesis that a number of rare highly penetrant loci contribute to the Mendelian inheritance of prostate cancer, current experimental evidence better supports the hypothesis that some of the familial risks may be due to inheritance of multiple moderate-risk genetic variants. In this regard, it is not surprising that analyses of genes encoding key proteins involved in androgen biosynthesis and action led to the observation of a significant association between a susceptibility to prostate cancer and common genetic variants in some of those genes.

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