Hereditary Prosate Cancer Study FAQ

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


National Cooperative Study of Hereditary Prostate Cancer in African-Americans

Questions and Answers About Prostate Cancer

What is hereditary prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer that appears to run in families and is characterized by an early age of onset.

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Do all men with cancer have hereditary prostate cancer?

No, prostate cancers are complex, there are likely to be non-genetic factors such as diet, smoking and other influences.

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How do I know if I am at risk for hereditary prostate cancer?

Men who have several family members with cancer and/or a family member who had cancer at an early age may be at risk for hereditary prostate cancer.

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I do not know if I have relatives with cancer. What can I do?

Cancer is not easy to talk about. With the promise of identifying vulnerability genes for prostate cancer, knowing your family history is important. Talk to your father, mother, uncles, grandfathers and cousins about your family history.

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What can I do if I am at risk of getting hereditary prostate cancer?

Go for a prostate cancer check-up every year or as often as your doctor recommends it. The best defense against prostate cancer is early detection. To increase the chances of early detection of prostate cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends a digital rectal exam (DRE) as part of a regular physical check-up. Also, a PSA blood test is recommended (PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen) along with the annual digital rectal exam.

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When genes are found which increase vulnerability to prostate cancer,
how will it help men like me, my sons and grandsons?

Once susceptibility genes are found, important questions about how strong or aggressive the prostate cancer is will be answered. These answers will help decide the best treatment for prostate cancer.

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Why are African-American families being asked to help?

In a 1996 study on hereditary prostate cancer, an association was found with the disease and several genetic markers on chromosome 1. For reasons that are not understood there is a high prevalence of prostate cancer among African American males.

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What is the AAHPC study Network?

A collaborative research group consisting of clinician scientists with the greatest access to African-American HPC families along with researchers from Howard University and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). As the Coordinating Center for the African American Hereditary Prostate Cancer Study Network, Howard University in collaboration with the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), and the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Minority Health, awarded subcontracts to investigators in the following six metropolitan areas and state of South Carolina. The Collaborative Recruitment Centers (CRCs) for the African American HPC Study Network are:

Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center
Project Director: Srinivasan Vijayakumar, M.D.
Location: Chicago, IL

Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Project Director: David G. McLeod, M.D.
Location: Washington, DC

Wayne State University Consortium
Head and Project Director: Isaac Powell, M.D.
Location: Detroit, MI

Project Director: James Bennett, M.D.
Location: Atlanta, GA

Project Director: Gerald Hoke, M.D.
Location: New York, NY

Project Director: Curtis Pettaway, M.D.
Location: Houston, TX

Project Director: Sally Weinrich, Ph.D.
Location: Columbia, SC

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What is the function of the collaborative recruitment centers?

The CRCs are collectively responsible for recruiting at least 100 informative African-American HPC families during the two year projected collection period for this project.

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How do I know if my family is eligible to participate in the study?

A qualified family must include a minimum of four clinically diagnosed male prostate cancer cases, three of whom must be available for testing. A minimum of eight family members should be tested including unaffected members (sisters, mother or father of affected, and aunts or uncles on affected side). The following families will be most informative: (1) families with prostate cancer on one side of the family, i.e., father or mother, but not on both sides; (2) families with mean age of diagnosis of less than or equal to 65 years.

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How will confidentiality be maintained?

Because of the sensitivity and the need to preserve the confidentiality of individuals participating as research subjects in genetic studies, standard protocols without personal identifiers will be used to maintain confidentiality. Only the family's home CRC will have information on the personal identification of participants in this study. This study does not require that names be associated with samples in order to conduct the genetic analysis. However, in order for the results to be analyzed, the pedigree must be correct. Forms with personal identifiers will remain at the CRC in secured file cabinets and shall be accessible only to the CRC Study Coordinator or Project Director. To insure informed consent all research participants will be asked whether they understand the purpose of the study and why they are being asked to participate. All participants must voluntarily consent to participate in the study.

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Study Newsletter

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Last Reviewed: May 11, 2012