Algorithm Could Help Detect The Men At Highest Prostate Cancer Risk

Prostate cancer can be treated in several different ways, including hormonal treatments, surgery and radiotherapy. Our radiotherapy centre in Vienna offers the latter and can make a critical difference in ensuring patients can survive what can often be a fatal diagnosis.

For that reason, a new algorithm devised by Cambridge University in the UK to calculate each individual man’s risk of prostate cancer could show the way forward, ensuring those who are likely to suffer it will be screened more and be likely to benefit from early discovery of the disease. 

The algorithm is based on genetic screening for faulty versions of the BRCA2, HOXB13 and possibly BRCA1 genes, which all indicate a high level of vulnerability to prostate cancer. The researchers behind the algorithm devised it to offer a more accurate test than the detection of prostate-specific antigen in blood tests that often produces false positives.

For example, while 16 per cent of all men in the UK get prostate cancer by the age of 85, this rises to 27 per cent for those whose fathers suffered the disease at an old age such as 80, but as high as 42 per cent if the occurrence was earlier, such as before the age of 50. Combining this with the genetic study will help assess individual risks.

The algorithm may prove to be particularly useful and while devised in the UK, it can be used just as relevantly by clinicians in Austria, as well as any other country.

According to EUROCARE-5, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer in Europe is 83 per cent overall, with this rising to 90 per cent for men aged between 55 and 64. However, there are geographical variations across the continent, with the highest survival rates in northern Europe and the lowest in eastern Europe.

Although the racial composition of national populations will account for some variations in the occurrence of the disease, it is healthcare that is likely to make the biggest difference in survival rates.