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Prostate Cancer: Curing the Whole Family

Learning your family’s history with cancer is important. The link between some types of prostate cancer and other cancers through genetics has been known for some time, although it is still an evolving science to get to the goal of precision medicine. Still, the discovery of 16 inherited “germline genetic mutations” that can run in families – causing prostate cancer, as well as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, brain cancer and other cancers – means that it’s important that all family members know their relation to cancer.

“Patients should know about their family history with cancer,” says Dr. Heather Cheng, assistant professor at The University of Washington-Seattle. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a patient who has a strong family history with cancer that they only discover after their own diagnosis.”

Sometime in the near future, a genetic screening may be the first step that any doctor takes in diagnosing and treating many different types of diseases, including cancer.  Even now, you can be your own best patient advocate: know YOUR family history with prostate cancer and other cancers, and don’t be shy about asking your doctor if genetic counseling or screening is right for you.