Leonard G. Gomella, MD, professor, chair of the Department of Urology, and director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Network, of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, discusses the evolution of genetic testing in prostate cancer.
Genetic testing is more commonly used to understand a patient’s risk for prostate cancer, despite the fact that the majority of men have sporadic prostate cancer. Sporadic prostate cancer occurs when there is no clear signal to indicate that the patient has a family history or requires genetic testing, says Gomella.
Despite that, the field recognizes the importance of genetic testing. In the early 2000s, the government sponsored the major Human Genome Project. At that time, many companies became involved with genetic testing. In 2013, Angelina Jolie revealed that she had a germline BRCA1/2 mutation, which increases the risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Additionally, the United States Supreme Court decreed that companies could not patent a naturally occurring normal or mutated gene. These occurrences garnered significant interest in developing commercial assays for genetic testing, says Gomella.
As such, the field has been able to identify that similar genes in the DNA repair pathway that increase the risk of ovarian and breast cancer in females also appear to be involved in the same pathway in men with prostate cancer.