A man whose mother, sister or maternal relatives have had breast cancer is at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer, say doctors.
For decades, doctors have said that men whose fathers, brothers or paternal uncles have had prostate cancer are more likely to get the disease. But now a new risk group with breast cancer link has come to the fore, said Prokhar Dasgupta, chairman of robotic surgery, Guys' Hospital, London.
The doctor said it was well known that prostate cancer is passed down genetically. "But now that the breast cancer connection is known, men whose mothers, sisters or maternal aunts have had breast cancer should be wary of prostate cancer."
Dasgupta was speaking recently at a programme, "Prostate Cancer is Now Curable", organised by the city-based Prostate Cancer Foundation.
He said a series of studies published in journals like the American Association of Cancer Research and Nature Genetics over the past 15 years has said that the BRCA1 and the BRCA2 genes responsible for breast cancer have been found in the blood samples of two per cent men with prostate cancer. "Subsequent studies have also shown that prostate cancer in men whose blood samples have the BRCA2 gene is more aggressive."
Surgical oncologist Gautam Mukhopadhayay said men without any family history of prostate or breast cancer should undergo tests because prostate cancer is also a lifestyle disease caused by diet and environmental factors.
"It's commonly seen that if someone has cancer, their children often get another type of cancer because the cancer genes tend to mutate," he said.
The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It was earlier thought that prostate cancer was more prevalent in the West but over the past couple of years more men are getting the disease in India, a urologist said.
Men above 50 should go for the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test every year, said Amit Ghose who recently set up the Prostate Cancer Foundation to build awareness about the disease.
The two common indications of the disease are frequent urination between bedtime and waking in the morning and a weak urine stream, he said.
Dasgupta announced that robotic surgery for prostate cancer was now available in Calcutta. "After a minimally invasive robotic surgery, a patient has to stay in hospital for a day or two. Earlier, patients had to stay in hospital for five to seven days because of the open procedure. The robotic surgery ensures minimal blood loss. Also, we get fewer complaints of impotency and urine leakage in case of robotic surgery."