Facts on Prostate Cancer Research
You may well be wondering what this all means - genetic variants and increased risk? First of all, the presence of a risk factor doesn't mean that you will develop the disease, it is not an absolute thing.
In trying to find the causes of prostate cancer scientists look at genes. This is because a cancer is basically cell division going out of control, and cellular processes are controlled by genes.
If scientists see the same genetic differences in prostate cancer patients - and these are not present in the average population - it gives them a pretty big clue that these variants may some how be to blame. They can then use this knowledge to develop tests that could spot these variants at any time of life. So for example, if you're a teenage boy and a test picks up that you have some of the variants, your lifestyle could be modified so that you hopefully won't develop the disease.
At the same time researchers will also study these variants to see if and how they cause the disease. By knowing the mechanics of the disease process, therapeutics can be developed to target the genetic causes and stop them before they do too much damage. And that could one day mean gene therapy for prostate cancer.
As always the road from initial discovery to therapeutics can be a long one, taking several years. But the more we understand, the better are our chances of making prostate cancer history.