Have You Seen This?: Heritability of Prostate Cancer

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Holly Magliochetti

Genetics Institute of America

Genetics Institute of America (GIA) is a national laboratory dedicated to heightening the awareness of early intervention and genetic screening to promote the longevity and quality of life outcomes.  


Have You Seen This? 

Heritability of Prostate Cancer

Twin Prostate Cancer
July 20, 2022

DELRAY BEACH, FL – Prostate cancer is known as one of the most heritable cancers, even though there is still a lot to learn about the genetic contribution. Family history of prostate cancer increases risk by up to four-fold. “Family and twin studies have proven essential for elucidating the relative importance of genetic and environmental factors in explaining differences in the liability to develop prostate cancer.”1

A recent study by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Southern Denmark and many more prominent institutions in the United States, Finland, and Iceland wanted to understand the genetic contributions across age for prostate cancer using data from the Nordic Twin Study of Cancer. Using almost 50,000 monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) male twin pairs, the researchers attempted to estimate the risk and heritability of prostate cancer across twin pairs.

The study found that “the cumulative risk for twins whose co-twin was diagnosed with prostate cancer was greater for MZ than for DZ twins across all ages. Among concordantly affected pairs, the time between diagnoses was significantly shorter for MZ than DZ pairs. Genetic differences contributed substantially to variation in both the risk and the liability of developing prostate cancer,” with almost 60% heritability.1

These findings suggest that there is a great genetic contribution to the risk of developing prostate cancer and that these risk factors are consistent despite a patient’s age. This study further affirms the necessity for continued research involving genetic markers and targeted treatments.

  1. Hjelmborg JB, Scheike T, Holst K, et al. The heritability of prostate cancer in the Nordic Twin Study of Cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014;23(11):2303-2310. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0568
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