I received an email from a lady from Australia that I though would be informative to share. It discusses genetic links and risk factors for hormonally related (including prostate) cancers:
HER EMAIL TO ME
Hi there 🙂
I hope you don’t mind me emailing you?
I’m a lady from Australia and have 3 uncles with prostate ca plus their father (my maternal grandfather) and two of his brothers. My uncles were all mid 50’s at diagnosis.
I noticed on a thread on the prostate ca forum where you said you had 5 uncles with the disease? What I’m trying to find out is if there is a prostate ca gene or if it’s always linked to female cancers ? Did any of your female relatives have cancer? My aunts and mum so far are cancer free any thoughts thanks
Wow, that is a lot of prostate cancer.
To answer your specific question about prostate cancer being linked to female cancers, the answer is yes and no. I believe that for both men and women having any of the hormonally linked cancers (breast, prostate, bladder, thyroid, cervical and kidney) increases the risk for the development of another hormonally mediated cancer in that person and for a hormonally linked cancer appearing in a future generation. It does not matter if the cancer is in a women or a man, the risk factor is still increased. I believe that prostate cancer is more likely to appear in the next generation of men and that breast cancer is more likely to appear in the next generation of women when there is a family history because the next generations are at a higher risk level for both the specific cancer as well as another hormonally related cancer.
To clarify my family history and to see how this has operated in my family; my great grandfather had prostate problems (I believe that it was prostate cancer) and died of breast cancer. His son, my grandfather died of prostate cancer and his two sons, my father and uncle, both had prostate cancer (uncle died of prostate cancer). My cousin (son of the dead uncle) has been treated for prostate cancer and I have prostate cancer, however neither my older brother nor my sister has had any cancer.
I am not sure but I believe that my paternal grandmother had cancer ( I am not sure what type). My maternal grandmother died of melanoma (which I too have had) and my maternal grandfather had brain cancer.
It is my belief that this means that even the women (and of course the men also) in your family are at an increased risk of any of these cancers. I am not aware of any hard population studies that verify this assumption; it is simply my very unscientific belief.
There is no question that there is a genetic link to certain cancers, including prostate cancer. Although we have not yet been able to identify the gene or system of genes that is in question it is most probable that there are a number of them. I do think that within the next five years we will have developed and validated some genetic screening tests that will provide some insight into resolving this question.
What is important is that the men and women in your family be very aware of this because they are all at an increased risk for a hormonally linked cancer. For the men, given their strong genetic risk they all need to start with a PSA test and DRE at least by 35 ( maybe even 30 years old) to establish a baseline. Then they should establish with their doctor a schedule of follow up tests. I do believe that a lot of doctors would say that 35 is too early, but given the issues in the family I believe that it is reasonable. I would second this recommendation for the women to have mammograms and learn how to perform a self breast check.
I hope that I have responded to your questions.
Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.
Comments from a different Australian lady –
I live in Australia – my husband’s maternal grandfather died of prostate cancer aged 69 years – he had 3 daughters and no sons – he died after the birth of his first grandson in 1953 and which was before the births of the other three grandsons – the knowledge of his cause of death was lost over the years
– he had 4 grandsons – 3 by one daughter, and 1 by another daughter – the other daughter had no sons
– all 4 grandsons have developed prostrate cancer in their 50’s which required removal of the prostate – the 3 who were aged 59 years had an aggressive cancer – the 55 year old’s was less advanced and less aggressive
– ie 100% are affected – not the 35-40% that might have been expected according to some sources
– there are no other common causal factors
– one grandson grew up 100’s of miles away from his three male cousins
– only 2 of the grandsons had common occupational factors – farmers
– only 2 of the grandsons had common geographic factors in adulthood ie NSW rural farmland
– as a consequence this case has shocked some medical professionals in Australia who are aware of the case