Prostate cancer can impact patients differently depending on their risk group. Dr. Heather Cheng from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance explains how genetic information is used in prostate cancer treatment and other factors that can impact patient outcomes.
Can you speak to how you and your colleagues are using genetic information to help with the treatment and understanding prostate cancer for different risk groups?
Dr. Heather Cheng:
Yeah, thank you that…that’s something that I think is following the lines of this idea of precision oncology or tailoring. Tailoring people’s management, either if they don’t have cancer and we’re worried about the risk of cancer, we can use genetic markers that we can test from saliva or blood to help understand that person’s risk of prostate cancer better, and in some cases, there are some families where there are markers or genes that run in the families that might increase the risk of developing prostate cancer, but also sometimes the same genes are increased the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and if they’re present, then it’s important to think about knowing that, getting that information, because then there are strategies that we can use to find it earlier and to treat it more aggressively and hopefully have much better outcomes in a much better likelihood of curing prostate cancer. But then also the other related cancer, so for men, this is really important because we haven’t previously been thinking about it in the same way, but that’s one example of how genetics can affect the thinking about the risk of prostate cancer. We know that Black men have a higher risk of prostate cancer to begin with, and we were beginning to understand why that might be.
Some of it may be genetic, some of it may be access to healthcare and knowledge, which we’re trying to help disseminate the knowledge here, and then sometimes it’s care delivery, so we want to focus on all of those things, but genetics are part of that.