Breast Cancer: Separating Fact from Fiction

Breast Cancer is probably the most talked-about form of cancer today. Millions upon millions of dollars are donated from regular people just like you into research that will help patients overcome breast cancer, and treatments that save lives all over the country. In spite of all the money spent on Breast Cancer Awareness, a lot of people are still woefully ill-informed about the truths of Breast Cancer, and their knowledge regarding breast cancer is largely the result of hearsay and hypotheses put forth in the past that have now become outdated. Let’s talk about some of these myths now, and separate the fact from the fiction.

Fiction: Breast Cancer is Primarily Hereditary, and women are only at high risk if they have a family history of breast cancer.

Many people believe that breast cancer is for the most part a genetic condition, and that risk is carried down from parents to daughters. In reality, it is believed that only between five and ten percent of breast cancer cases are the result of genetic mutations acquired from the mother or father.

Of course, having one of these mutations can significantly increase your risk of breast cancer. For example, women that have particular BRCA mutations are eighty percent likely to experience breast cancer at some point in their lives.

Just because you have a family history doesn’t mean that you are definitely going to get cancer, however. Having a daughter, sister, or mother with breast cancer, for example, doubles cancer risk. If you have two close family members with the condition, your risk increases by three times compared to average.

Out of all breast cancer cases, only around twenty to thirty percent have immediate relatives that have experienced the condition in their lives. This means that the majority of women do not experience breast cancer as a result of direct hereditary risk passed down from their relatives.

Truth: Although genetic heritage does play a role, it is not the only factor which determines breast cancer risk, and most women that get breast cancer don’t express genetic predisposition.

Fiction: If someone in your family has had Breast Cancer, you will inevitably get Breast Cancer yourself.

If someone in your family has experienced Breast Cancer in the past, this is vital information that your physician needs to know. In addition to knowing that you have a history, it’s also important for your physician to know how many women in your family have experienced the condition in the past. Although Breast Cancer risk increases significantly when your family has a prior history of the condition, this doesn’t mean that you will definitely get breast cancer in the future.

There are ways to establish your risk, including genetic testing and counseling. One of the issues with how Breast Cancer risk is evaluated these days is that not enough women get these tests done. In fact, the percentage of women that actually receive this analysis is in the single digits! As with many other conditions, patients simply aren’t open enough with their doctors, and many doctors don’t readily recommend such procedures without prompting.

If your genetic evaluation says that you are at an elevated risk of Breast Cancer, this can completely change the way that your physician handles your Breast Cancer Prevention and Monitoring. For example, women at high risk benefit from earlier screening, both in the form of mammograms and MRI scanning. Breast Cancer, when caught early, has a very high rate of successful treatment, and by catching it early, it can be removed and treated before it has the chance to significantly risk your health. There are even preventative treatments available, ranging from surgery to pharmaceuticals that can be used to mitigate your breast cancer risk, dependent on your risk level.

Truth: Women with a family history shouldn’t think of breast cancer as inevitable, but they should take the steps to ensure their health and safety. With proper care and screening, Breast Cancer can usually be prevented or defeated before it reaches its more dangerous stages.

Fiction: Women without a history or genetic disposition toward breast cancer have nothing they can do to mitigate their potential risk for the condition.

Some variables of Breast Cancer risk are incontrovertible. There’s nothing you can do about your age, or your family history. There’s nothing you can do to change when you enter puberty or reach menopause. On the other hand, there are a variety of factors that you do have the power to mitigate, and you can take an active role in your breast cancer prevention. The following are three factors to think about in particular: Activity Level, Body Composition, and Alcohol Consumption.

Activity Level – A sedentary lifestyle has been scientifically shown to increase Breast Cancer risk. Studies have shown that women that get a lot of physical activity every day have a 25% reduced breast cancer risk as compared to their counterparts that are largely sedentary. The ideal level of cardiovascular exercise in order to mitigate breast cancer risk is between 45 minutes and an hour per day, although less activity also promotes breast health. Ideally, women should undergo fairly vigorous exercise, such as swimming, cycling, or jogging. As little as 75 minutes of light cardio per week has the potential to reduce the risk of breast cancer by around 18%, however.

Bodyfat percentage has been strongly correlated to the risk of breast cancer in women (and men). This is even more true after Menopause. As you experience your regular periods, the ovaries are primarily responsible for the production of Estrogen, whereas adipose fat tissue produces much less. After a woman’s Ovaries stop producing Estrogen at menopause, however, the body primarily relies on fat cells to produce the hormone. The amount of Estrogen that a woman produces via her body fat correlates completely with the amount of body fat she carries. Abnormally high Estrogen Levels increase breast tissue activity, which further correlates to breast cancer risk.

Alcohol Consumption – It is well documented that Alcohol suppresses Testosterone production in men by increasing the rate at which Testosterone is converted into Estrogen. Alcohol consumption also leads to an increase in breast cancer risk as well, as a result of increasing Estrogen levels in the blood stream. Specifically, each drink that a women consumes daily is associated with an increased risk of Breast Cancer of between ten and twelve percent. In addition, high levels of Alcohol consumption are also associated with other cancers such as liver, esophagus, throat, and mouth cancer.

For women that drink alcohol, the American Cancer Society suggests no more than one per day. To minimize Breast Cancer risk associated with Alcohol, it’s best to not drink at all.

Truth – Lifestyle factors play a major role in cancer risk, and by improving your lifestyle, you can reduce the odds of experiencing Breast Cancer in the future.

Fiction – Injuring your breast can cause breast cancer.

Many women are under the mistaken notion that hurting one’s breast can cause breast cancer. There is no evidence that bruising breast tissue can cause breast cancer. The reason that this myth first began to circulate is likely because bruising or pain in the particular area of the breast occasionally brings existing cancers to the notice of patient or physician. In these cases, the tumor has existed for awhile, but simply hasn’t been noticed.

Truth – You can’t get cancer from breast bruises.

Fiction – Breast Cancer is a disease which only occurs to women.

In reality, both sexes can get breast cancer. The reason why so many people think that men can’t get breast cancer is because it is far more rare than female breast cancer. In fact, women get breast cancer at a rate which is a hundred times that of their male counterpart. On average, only around 2,200 men in the United States get breast cancer, whereas 230,000 women experience the disease. The mortality rates differ similarly: 400 males die each year from the condition, whereas 40,000 women die from breast cancer.

That men are not made aware of male breast cancer can be to the detriment of their health. Because they don’t understand that men can get breast cancer, they frequently recognize the lumps, but simply ignore them until they become impossible to ignore, a point at which the danger of the cancer has grown dramatically and the outlook becomes far more grim.

Women have a higher incidence of breast cancer for a couple of important reasons. First, most cancers respond to progesterone and/or estrogen, feeding off of the hormones to grow. Since men don’t produce nearly as much, their risk is significantly lower. Also, men have fewer breast cells than women, meaning that there are fewer possible cells to malfunction.

Truth – Although men experience breast cancer at a much lower rate, they should still see their doctor if they sense any breast tissue abnormalities.

Fiction – The ideal way to catch breast cancer is with monthly self-exams

Not too long ago, it was recommended that women give themselves monthly evaluations to check for breast lumps and other abnormalities, but this is no longer the recommended protocol of the American Cancer Society. They discovered that these examinations increased the rate of false positives while also not being all too effective at discovering real cancer. Instead, the current suggestion is simply to have knowledge of one’s body, and be aware of any abnormal changes take place. The majority of women discover Breast Cancer during their normal routine, and an emphasis on awareness during routine appears to provide the best detection results.

Of course, women that are still interested in performing these monthly exams still may do so if they wish, but it is important that they learn how to perform the exams with maximum accuracy, as taught by their physician, if they wish to perform the self-exam in an optimal fashion.

If a woman feels a lump or recognizes any breast abnormalities, it is vital to talk to one’s physician as soon as possible. Even if you have recently had a mammogram performed, it’s still possible that the exam missed a potential cancer. It’s important to not only engage in self-examination, but also to undergo Mammogram, because often, Breast Cancer tumors can be recognized before they are felt, and the earlier that Breast Cancer is treated, the more likely it can be safely removed and treated completely.

Truth – There’s nothing wrong with monthly breast exams, but regular, breast awareness is more than sufficient to recognize potential breast cancer.

Fiction – Finding lumps is the only indication of Breast Cancer

All women understand that breast cancer can lead to tumors, which are referred to as lumps, but many women are unaware of other symptoms which are indicative of Breast Cancer which can be recognized, other than lumps. For example, unnatural breast discharge, scaliness and redness of the breast or nipple, pain and extreme sensitivity, dimpling, and irritation can all be signs of Breast Cancer. Some women may even experience an inversion of the nipple.

In fact, one rare but particularly dangerous type of breast cancer, known as Inflammatory Breast Cancer, is characterized by swelling, thickened skin, and redness, rather than lumps. Never assume that changes in breast health are benign or simply caused by infection. Visit a physician as soon as you can.

Truth – Lumps are the most commonly recognized symptom, but different cancers have different symptoms, and you should always take the proper precautions and make an appointment with a medical professional at the first sign of breast trouble.

Fiction – Mammograms Are Barely Worth the Time

Some women, unfortunately, have lost their faith in the effectiveness of the mammogram. In reality, mammograms are quite effective at recognizing breast cancer, with a success rate of between 80% and 90%. There’s no data which can accurately reflect how Mammograms mitigate mortality risk, but there is near universal agreement that Mammograms save women’s live on a regular basis. The general consensus is that when women turn forty, they should start getting yearly Mammograms.

Truth – Mammograms are an effective means to monitor for breast cancer.

Fiction – Deodorants Can Cause Breast Cancer

There are websites and emails which claim that Deodorants and Antiperspirants have the ability to cause breast cancer, by inhibiting immune function by blocking the lymph nodes. By inhibiting immune function, they supposedly increase toxin concentrations in the breast tissue There is next to no evidence that suggests that this is even a possibility.

One major study surveyed whether women with and without breast cancer used deodorant, in an attempt to see if there was any correlation with the use of such products and breast cancer. No significant connection was found. Shaving also had no notable impact on breast cancer rate.

Truth – Antiperspirants have absolutely zero noted connection with Breast Cancer.

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University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute | Advanced …

The top priority of the UC Cancer Instituteis to make the most advanced care readily available to the people of our Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area. This level of care is best provided by highly trained physicians who work collaboratively in a multidisciplinary setting to personalize the treatment of every cancer patient who seeks our services.

Although we have the ability to treat every patient with cancer that comes to us, we focus a great deal of our efforts on the treatment of patients with complex and advanced disease who cannot be treated elsewhere in the metropolitan area.

Another important part of our mission is to advance the field by conducting cutting-edge basic and clinical research to improve outcomes for patients with a variety of cancers. We will not be satisfied until we make sure that no patient in our region needs to go outside our area to receive the best cancer care.

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Cincinnati Cancer Center | Three Organizations, One Goal.

People of all ages who are diagnosed with cancer seek treatment where the best researchers and doctors practice, where the most advanced equipment is used, and where the most sophisticated clinical trials are under way. People who are diagnosed with cancer seek treatment from centers recognized for their excellence by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Its time the people of Greater Cincinnati had such a center.

Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center, theUniversity of CincinnatiandUC Healthhave created the Cincinnati Cancer Centera joint effort designed to leverage the strengths of all three organizations in order to provide the best possible cancer diagnostics, research, treatment, and care for the people of Cincinnati.

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Lung cancer Treatments and drugs – Mayo Clinic

You and your doctor choose a cancer treatment plan based on a number of factors, such as your overall health, the type and stage of your cancer, and your preferences. Options typically include one or more treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or targeted drug therapy.

In some cases you may choose not to undergo treatment. For instance, you may feel that the side effects of treatment will outweigh the potential benefits. When that’s the case, your doctor may suggest comfort care to treat only the symptoms the cancer is causing, such as pain or shortness of breath.

During surgery your surgeon works to remove the lung cancer and a margin of healthy tissue. Procedures to remove lung cancer include:

If you undergo surgery, your surgeon may also remove lymph nodes from your chest in order to check them for signs of cancer.

Lung cancer surgery carries risks, including bleeding and infection. Expect to feel short of breath after lung surgery. If a portion of your lung is removed, your remaining lung tissue will expand over time and make it easier to breathe. Your doctor may recommend a respiratory therapist who can guide you through breathing exercises to aid in your recovery.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. One or more chemotherapy drugs may be given through a vein in your arm (intravenously) or taken orally. A combination of drugs usually is given in a series of treatments over a period of weeks or months, with breaks in between so that you can recover.

Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may remain. It may also be used before surgery to shrink cancers and make them easier to remove. In some cases, chemotherapy can be used to relieve pain and other symptoms of advanced cancer.

Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams from sources such as X-rays and protons to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be directed at your lung cancer from outside your body (external beam radiation) or it can be put inside needles, seeds or catheters and placed inside your body near the cancer (brachytherapy).

Radiation therapy can be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may remain. It may also be used as the first treatment for lung cancers that can’t be removed during surgery. For people with advanced lung cancer, radiation therapy may be used to relieve pain and other symptoms.

For people with lung cancers that are very small, one option may be stereotactic body radiotherapy. This form of radiation aims many beams of radiation from different angles at the lung cancer. Stereotactic body radiotherapy treatment is typically completed in one or a few treatments. In certain cases, it may be used in place of surgery for small tumors.

Targeted therapies are newer cancer treatments that work by targeting specific abnormalities in cancer cells. Targeted therapy drugs are often used in combination with chemotherapy drugs.

Targeted therapy options for treating lung cancer include:

Some targeted therapies only work in people whose cancer cells have certain genetic mutations. Your cancer cells will be tested in a laboratory to see if these drugs might help you.

Clinical trials are studies of experimental lung cancer treatments. You may be interested in enrolling in a clinical trial if lung cancer treatments aren’t working or if your treatment options are limited.

The treatments studied in a clinical trial may be the latest innovations, but they don’t guarantee a cure. Carefully weigh your treatment options with your doctor.

Your participation in a clinical trial may help doctors better understand how to treat lung cancer in the future.

People with lung cancer often experience signs and symptoms of the cancer, as well as side effects of treatment. Supportive care, also known as palliative care, is a specialty area of medicine that involves working with a doctor to minimize your signs and symptoms.

Your doctor may recommend that you meet with a palliative care team soon after your diagnosis to ensure that you’re comfortable during and after your cancer treatment.

In one study, people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who began receiving supportive care soon after their diagnosis lived longer than those who continued with treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Those receiving supportive care reported improved mood and quality of life. They survived, on average, almost three months longer than did those receiving standard care.

You may be concerned that receiving palliative care means you can’t undergo aggressive treatment for your cancer. But rather than replace curative treatments, palliative care complements your cancer treatment and may make it more likely that you can complete your treatments.


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Cancer Immunotherapy | Immunotherapy for Cancer Treatment …

The state-of-the-art, non-toxic Cancer Immunotherapy protocols of the Issels Immunotherapy Centers are designed to restore the bodys own complex immune and defense mechanisms to recognize and eliminate cancer cells.

They are always highly personalized and can be combined with gene-targeted or special standard cancer therapies according to individual needs.

Personalized Non-Toxic Therapies

Cancer Vaccine Protocols

Cytokines, LAK Cells, NK Cells, Stem Cells

Advanced Gene-Targeted Therapies

Systemic Hyperthermia

The integrative Issels Immunotherapy system is the result of extensive clinical and scientific research and hasbecome internationally known for itsremarkable rate of long-term remissions of advanced and standard therapy-resistant cancers.

Issels Cancer Immunotherapy is based on and an expansion of the comprehensive strategy developed at the worlds first hospital specializing in the treatment of advanced and standard-therapy resistant cancers with 120 beds solely dedicated to immunotherapy based cancer treatment. Immunotherapy is now considered the most advanced of all cancer treatments.

Read what Government Authorities andEminent Scientistssay about Issels.

Our approach focuses with equal importance on both the tumor and the tumor microenvironment, which plays a pivotal role in disease progression or regression.

This integrative strategyhas been shown to improve outcomes of all cancer types and stages. It distinguishes the Issels Cancer Immunotherapy programs fundamentally from themere administration of a vaccine, of a cell therapy or another monotherapy.

Our many years of experience with personalized cancer immunotherapy and our results make the decisive difference for you.

We invite you to find out more about our individualized Cancer Immunotherapy protocols, use of effective alternative cancer treatments, and our extensive history in helping cancer patients achieve long-term remission over years, and evendecades. We encourage you to watch Video Testimonials or watch videos from patients and cancer survivors at YouTube.

Adenocarcinoma, Bone Cancer, Brain Cancer, Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer, Colon Cancer, Embryonal Teratoma, Kidney Cancer, Liver Cancer, Lung Cancer, Lymphoma, Mediastinal Cancer, Melanoma, Optic Nerve Cancer, Osteoclastoma, Osteosarcoma, Ovarian Cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma, Sarcoma, Squamous Cell Cancer, Stomach Cancer, Teratoma, Testicular Cancer, Thyroid Cancer, Uterine Cancer, and many other early and late stage cancers.

During the last two decades, manycancer patients on a global basishave been facingincreasing difficulties regarding insurance coverage, rising co-pay, especially for the newly approved immunotherapy drugs, loss of precious time due to lengthy approval procedures for clinical trials, the risk of being placed into the placebo group, and many other problems.

In our endeavors to help cancer patients receive effective treatment, Issels Immunotherapy has devised a geo-logistical structure that makes cutting-edge cancer treatments considerably more affordable and availablein a timely manner,withoutpatientsrunning the risk of being placed into the placebo group, norhaving to forego the quality of a first class internationally accredited hospital and US based treatment facilities.

The Issels non-toxic immunotherapy with vaccineand cell therapies, as well as advanced gene-targeted cancer therapies,are administered by our experienced doctors whose expertise is reflected in the results you can witness by visiting our extensive library of patient video testimonials.

* DISCLAIMER: The extent of the response to treatment varies from patient to patient, even with a similar diagnosis, as the internal bodily environment is unique to each individual patient.

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Customized cancer treatment moves closer to FDA approval

A promising new approach to cancer ismovingcloser to reaching patients, as the biotech company Kite Pharma prepares to make its case for Food and Drug Administration approval.

Kite announced Monday that its novel immunotherapy led to complete remissions for about one-third of patients with a severe form of blood cancer in a small clinical trial. The company believes those results will be enough to convince the FDA to let it on the market.

But there are caveats: The therapy has only been testedin a few dozen patients, the trial did not have a placebo arm, and the treatmentcan causesevere side effects, includingabnormally low white blood cell counts, anemia, and neurological toxicities.Two patients died of treatment-related side effects during the trial, the company said.

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Another major question: How long the treatment will keep cancer at bay. Seven of the patients who first showed a strong response, with their cancer going into remission, relapsed within three months.

If approved, Kites therapy would be the first so-called CAR-T treatment to reach the market, leading a heavily hyped class of cancer drugsthat could bring in billions in revenue for their inventors.

Kites therapy, KTE-C19, is made by taking a patients own immune cells and rewiring them to home in on the tell-tale signs of cancer. Such treatments have shown early promise for some particularly deadly forms of cancer, but serious side effects and technological hurdles could cloud their future.

KTE-C19 targets the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a particularly aggressive cancer called diffuse large B cell lymphoma, or DLBCL. Most DLBCL patients go into remission after treatment with the cancer drug Rituxan and a battery of chemotherapy, but about one-third dont respond to that regimen. It is these patients, who only survive for about six months on average, that Kites treatment aims to help.

Over three months, Kites therapy shrunk tumors for 39 percent of the 51 patients in the trial and sent 33 percent into complete remission. Kites trial has no placebo arm, but for comparison purposes, the company points to historic data from 635 DLBCL patients treated with the standard of care. About26 percent of them saw their cancer shrink, and just8 percent had it disappear completely.

These are remarkable responses for a patient population that has historically had a very poor outcomes, Kite CEO Arie Belldegrun said on a conference call, which is why we must never forget that for patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, every day matters.

The question now is whether Kites results are good enough to merit FDA approval.

Wall Street analysts are all over the map in trying to predictwhat regulators might want to see from Kite. Some said the company would need a complete remission rate of around 50 percent, while others say it could win approval with half that.

Beware the hype: Top scientists cautious about fighting cancer with immunotherapy

And it remains possible that the FDA will decide to wait until Kite has six months or even a year of data from its trial. In the results Kite presented Monday, seven patients who first achieved complete remission suffered relapses after three months. Federal regulators might take a wait-and-see approach before giving Kite the green light, holding off on approval until they have a better idea of KTE-C19s durability.

Kites latest results are preliminary and have not been peer-reviewed. The company plans to present full data at a scientific meeting this year, and management promised to disclose six-month results from the trial in the first quarter of 2017.

Kite is in the lead among companies racing to commercialize CAR-T therapies. If the FDA accepts its application, Kite could win approval next year. Behind it are Novartis, which expects to submit its CAR-T treatment in 2017, and Juno Therapeutics, which had to push back its commercial plans after the deaths of three patients delayed a key clinical trial.

This story has been updated with more information about Kites trial results.

Damian Garde can be reached at Follow Damian on Twitter @damiangarde

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Types of treatment for breast cancer – Cancer Research UK

There are a number of tools available to help doctors decide which treatment you should have. These tools give them some idea of how well treatment may work for a person with breast cancer and how long the person may live. It is not possible to predict exactly what will happen to each individual person but these tools can give a general idea.

The Nottingham Prognostic Indicator (NPI) looks at 3 factors

Your doctor then scores each of these factors and depending on the total they work out whether your outlook is excellent, good, moderate or poor.

The NPI is based on information from a group of patients treated some time ago and very few of them had treatment after surgery. Treatment results have greatly improved since then. So it may not give as good an outlook (prognosis) as you actually have, if you are having treatment now.

More recently other tools have become available including Adjuvant! Online and PREDICT.

The Adjuvant! Online tool looks at the same factors as the NPI but also includes other details such as the hormone receptors on your cancer cells . Your doctor puts all of the information about your cancer into a computer programme. This gives them an idea of how well each treatment may work for you, and the difference having treatment after surgery may make.

The PREDICT tool looks at all of the information that the NPI considers. It also takes into account other factors. These include whether there are hormone and HER2 receptors on your cancer cells and whether you have other health conditions.

Each of these tools has advantages and drawbacks. Your doctors will choose the tool that they think is most suitable for you.

Even with these tools, it is extremely difficult for a doctor to predict a persons outcome. There are now many more tests available that tell your doctor more about your cancer. So there are many more factors involved than any one tool covers. It is best to discuss your particular situation with your own doctor because they have all the information about your case available to them.

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The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential …

Several sources of information suggest that human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) of approximately 1 whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15/1-16.7/1. Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared with the diet on which human beings evolved and their genetic patterns were established. Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, whereas increased levels of omega-3 PUFA (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) exert suppressive effects. In the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, a ratio of 4/1 was associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality. A ratio of 2.5/1 reduced rectal cell proliferation in patients with colorectal cancer, whereas a ratio of 4/1 with the same amount of omega-3 PUFA had no effect. The lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio in women with breast cancer was associated with decreased risk. A ratio of 2-3/1 suppressed inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and a ratio of 5/1 had a beneficial effect on patients with asthma, whereas a ratio of 10/1 had adverse consequences. These studies indicate that the optimal ratio may vary with the disease under consideration. This is consistent with the fact that chronic diseases are multigenic and multifactorial. Therefore, it is quite possible that the therapeutic dose of omega-3 fatty acids will depend on the degree of severity of disease resulting from the genetic predisposition. A lower ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids is more desirable in reducing the risk of many of the chronic diseases of high prevalence in Western societies, as well as in the developing countries, that are being exported to the rest of the world.

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Genetics of Skin Cancer (PDQ)Health Professional Version …


[Note: Many of the medical and scientific terms used in this summary are found in the NCI Dictionary of Genetics Terms. When a linked term is clicked, the definition will appear in a separate window.]

[Note: Many of the genes described in this summary are found in the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database. When OMIM appears after a gene name or the name of a condition, click on OMIM for a link to more information.]

The genetics of skin cancer is an extremely broad topic. There are more than 100 types of tumors that are clinically apparent on the skin; many of these are known to have familial components, either in isolation or as part of a syndrome with other features. This is, in part, because the skin itself is a complex organ made up of multiple cell types. Furthermore, many of these cell types can undergo malignant transformation at various points in their differentiation, leading to tumors with distinct histology and dramatically different biological behaviors, such as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell cancer (BCC). These have been called nonmelanoma skin cancers or keratinocyte cancers.

Figure 1 is a simple diagram of normal skin structure. It also indicates the major cell types that are normally found in each compartment. Broadly speaking, there are two large compartmentsthe avascular epidermis and the vascular dermiswith many cell types distributed in a largely acellular matrix.[1]

Figure 1. Schematic representation of normal skin. The relatively avascular epidermis houses basal cell keratinocytes and squamous epithelial keratinocytes, the source cells for BCC and SCC, respectively. Melanocytes are also present in normal skin and serve as the source cell for melanoma. The separation between epidermis and dermis occurs at the basement membrane zone, located just inferior to the basal cell keratinocytes.

The outer layer or epidermis is made primarily of keratinocytes but has several other minor cell populations. The bottom layer is formed of basal keratinocytes abutting the basement membrane. The basement membrane is formed from products of keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts, such as collagen and laminin, and is an important anatomical and functional structure. Basal keratinocytes lose contact with the basement membrane as they divide. As basal keratinocytes migrate toward the skin surface, they progressively differentiate to form the spinous cell layer; the granular cell layer; and the keratinized outer layer, or stratum corneum.

The true cytologic origin of BCC remains in question. BCC and basal cell keratinocytes share many histologic similarities, as is reflected in the name. Alternatively, the outer root sheath cells of the hair follicle have also been proposed as the cell of origin for BCC.[2] This is suggested by the fact that BCCs occur predominantly on hair-bearing skin. BCCs rarely metastasize but can invade tissue locally or regionally, sometimes following along nerves. A tendency for superficial necrosis has resulted in the name “rodent ulcer.”[3]

Some debate remains about the origin of SCC; however, these cancers are likely derived from epidermal stem cells associated with the hair follicle.[4] A variety of tissues, such as lung and uterine cervix, can give rise to SCC, and this cancer has somewhat differing behavior depending on its source. Even in cancer derived from the skin, SCC from different anatomic locations can have moderately differing aggressiveness; for example, SCC from glabrous (smooth, hairless) skin has a lower metastatic rate than SCC arising from the vermillion border of the lip or from scars.[3]

Additionally, in the epidermal compartment, melanocytes distribute singly along the basement membrane and can undergo malignant transformation into melanoma. Melanocytes are derived from neural crest cells and migrate to the epidermal compartment near the eighth week of gestational age. Langerhans cells, or dendritic cells, are another cell type in the epidermis and have a primary function of antigen presentation. These cells reside in the skin for an extended time and respond to different stimuli, such as ultraviolet radiation or topical steroids, which cause them to migrate out of the skin.[5]

The dermis is largely composed of an extracellular matrix. Prominent cell types in this compartment are fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and transient immune system cells. When transformed, fibroblasts form fibrosarcomas and endothelial cells form angiosarcomas, Kaposi sarcoma, and other vascular tumors. There are a number of immune cell types that move in and out of the skin to blood vessels and lymphatics; these include mast cells, lymphocytes, mononuclear cells, histiocytes, and granulocytes. These cells can increase in number in inflammatory diseases and can form tumors within the skin. For example, urticaria pigmentosa is a condition that arises from mast cells and is occasionally associated with mast cell leukemia; cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is often confined to the skin throughout its course. Overall, 10% of leukemias and lymphomas have prominent expression in the skin.[6]

Epidermal appendages are also found in the dermal compartment. These are derivatives of the epidermal keratinocytes, such as hair follicles, sweat glands, and the sebaceous glands associated with the hair follicles. These structures are generally formed in the first and second trimesters of fetal development. These can form a large variety of benign or malignant tumors with diverse biological behaviors. Several of these tumors are associated with familial syndromes. Overall, there are dozens of different histological subtypes of these tumors associated with individual components of the adnexal structures.[7]

Finally, the subcutis is a layer that extends below the dermis with varying depth, depending on the anatomic location. This deeper boundary can include muscle, fascia, bone, or cartilage. The subcutis can be affected by inflammatory conditions such as panniculitis and malignancies such as liposarcoma.[8]

These compartments give rise to their own malignancies but are also the region of immediate adjacent spread of localized skin cancers from other compartments. The boundaries of each skin compartment are used to define the staging of skin cancers. For example, an in situ melanoma is confined to the epidermis. Once the cancer crosses the basement membrane into the dermis, it is invasive. Internal malignancies also commonly metastasize to the skin. The dermis and subcutis are the most common locations, but the epidermis can also be involved in conditions such as Pagetoid breast cancer.

The skin has a wide variety of functions. First, the skin is an important barrier preventing extensive water and temperature loss and providing protection against minor abrasions. These functions can be aberrantly regulated in cancer. For example, in the erythroderma (reddening of the skin) associated with advanced cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, alterations in the regulations of body temperature can result in profound heat loss. Second, the skin has important adaptive and innate immunity functions. In adaptive immunity, antigen-presenting cells engender T-cell responses consisting of increased levels of TH1, TH2, or TH17 cells.[9] In innate immunity, the immune system produces numerous peptides with antibacterial and antifungal capacity. Consequently, even small breaks in the skin can lead to infection. The skin-associated lymphoid tissue is one of the largest arms of the immune system. It may also be important in immune surveillance against cancer. Immunosuppression, which occurs during organ transplant, is a significant risk factor for skin cancer. The skin is significant for communication through facial expression and hand movements. Unfortunately, areas of specialized function, such as the area around the eyes and ears, are common places for cancer to occur. Even small cancers in these areas can lead to reconstructive challenges and have significant cosmetic and social ramifications.[1]

While the appearance of any one skin cancer can vary, there are general physical presentations that can be used in screening. BCCs most commonly have a pearly rim or can appear somewhat eczematous (see Figure 2 and Figure 3). They often ulcerate (see Figure 2). SCCs frequently have a thick keratin top layer (see Figure 4). Both BCCs and SCCs are associated with a history of sun-damaged skin. Melanomas are characterized by asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, a diameter of more than 6 mm, and evolution (ABCDE criteria). (Refer to What Does Melanoma Look Like? on NCI’s website for more information about the ABCDE criteria.) Photographs representing typical clinical presentations of these cancers are shown below.


Figure 2. Ulcerated basal cell carcinoma (left panel) and ulcerated basal cell carcinoma with characteristic pearly rim (right panel).

Figure 3. Superficial basal cell carcinoma (left panel) and nodular basal cell carcinoma (right panel).


Figure 4. Squamous cell carcinoma on the face with thick keratin top layer (left panel) and squamous cell carcinoma on the leg (right panel).


Figure 5. Melanomas with characteristic asymmetry, border irregularity, color variation, and large diameter.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common malignancy in people of European descent, with an associated lifetime risk of 30%.[1] While exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the risk factor most closely linked to the development of BCC, other environmental factors (such as ionizing radiation, chronic arsenic ingestion, and immunosuppression) and genetic factors (such as family history, skin type, and genetic syndromes) also potentially contribute to carcinogenesis. In contrast to melanoma, metastatic spread of BCC is very rare and typically arises from large tumors that have evaded medical treatment for extended periods of time. BCCs can invade tissue locally or regionally, sometimes following along nerves. A tendency for superficial necrosis has resulted in the name “rodent ulcer.” With early detection, the prognosis for BCC is excellent.

Sun exposure is the major known environmental factor associated with the development of skin cancer of all types. There are different patterns of sun exposure associated with each major type of skin cancer (BCC, squamous cell carcinoma [SCC], and melanoma). (Refer to the PDQ summary on Skin Cancer Prevention for more information about risk factors for skin cancer in the general population.)

The high-risk phenotype consists of individuals with the following physical characteristics:

Specifically, people with more highly pigmented skin demonstrate lower incidence of BCC than do people with lighter pigmented skin. Individuals with Fitzpatrick Type I or II skin were shown to have a twofold increased risk of BCC in a small case-control study.[2] (Refer to the Pigmentary characteristics section in the Melanoma section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of skin phenotypes based upon pigmentation.) Blond or red hair color was associated with increased risk of BCC in two large cohorts: the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.[3]

Individuals with BCCs and/or SCCs report a higher frequency of these cancers in their family members than do controls. The importance of this finding is unclear. Apart from defined genetic disorders with an increased risk of BCC, a positive family history of any skin cancer is a strong predictor of the development of BCC.

A study on the heritability of cancer among 80,309 monozygotic and 123,382 dizygotic twins showed that nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSCs) have a heritability of 43% (95% confidence interval [CI], 26%59%), suggesting that almost half of the risk of NMSC is caused by inherited factors.[4] Additionally, the cumulative risk of NMSC was 1.9-fold higher for monozygotic than for dizygotic twins (95% CI, 1.82.0).[4]

A personal history of BCC or SCC is strongly associated with subsequent BCC or SCC. There is an approximate 20% increased risk of a subsequent lesion within the first year after a skin cancer has been diagnosed. The mean age of occurrence for these NMSCs is the mid-60s.[5-10] In addition, several studies have found that individuals with a history of skin cancer have an increased risk of a subsequent diagnosis of a noncutaneous cancer;[11-14] however, other studies have contradicted this finding.[15-18] In the absence of other risk factors or evidence of a defined cancer susceptibility syndrome, as discussed below, skin cancer patients are encouraged to follow screening recommendations for the general population for sites other than the skin.

Mutations in the gene coding for the transmembrane receptor protein PTCH1, or PTCH, are associated with basal cell nevus syndrome (BCNS) and sporadic cutaneous BCCs. (Refer to the BCNS section of this summary for more information.) PTCH1, the human homolog of the Drosophila segment polarity gene patched (ptc), is an integral component of the hedgehog signaling pathway, which serves many developmental (appendage development, embryonic segmentation, neural tube differentiation) and regulatory (maintenance of stem cells) roles.

In the resting state, the transmembrane receptor protein PTCH1 acts catalytically to suppress the seven-transmembrane protein Smoothened (Smo), preventing further downstream signal transduction.[19] Binding of the hedgehog ligand to PTCH1 releases inhibition of Smo, with resultant activation of transcription factors (GLI1, GLI2), cell proliferation genes (cyclin D, cyclin E, myc), and regulators of angiogenesis.[20,21] Thus, the balance of PTCH1 (inhibition) and Smo (activation) manages the essential regulatory downstream hedgehog signal transduction pathway. Loss-of-function mutations of PTCH1 or gain-of-function mutations of Smo tip this balance toward activation, a key event in potential neoplastic transformation.

Demonstration of allelic loss on chromosome 9q22 in both sporadic and familial BCCs suggested the potential presence of an associated tumor suppressor gene.[22,23] Further investigation identified a mutation in PTCH1 that localized to the area of allelic loss.[24] Up to 30% of sporadic BCCs demonstrate PTCH1 mutations.[25] In addition to BCC, medulloblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma, along with other tumors, have been associated with PTCH1 mutations. All three malignancies are associated with BCNS, and most people with clinical features of BCNS demonstrate PTCH1 mutations, predominantly truncation in type.[26]

Truncating mutations in PTCH2, a homolog of PTCH1 mapping to chromosome 1p32.1-32.3, have been demonstrated in both BCC and medulloblastoma.[27,28] PTCH2 displays 57% homology to PTCH1.[29] While the exact role of PTCH2 remains unclear, there is evidence to support its involvement in the hedgehog signaling pathway.[27,30]

BCNS, also known as Gorlin Syndrome, Gorlin-Goltz syndrome, and nevoid BCC syndrome, is an autosomal dominant disorder with an estimated prevalence of 1 in 57,000 individuals.[31] The syndrome is notable for complete penetrance and high levels of variable expressivity, as evidenced by evaluation of individuals with identical genotypes but widely varying phenotypes.[26,32] The clinical features of BCNS differ more among families than within families.[33] BCNS is primarily associated with germline mutations in PTCH1, but families with this phenotype have also been associated with alterations in PTCH2 and SUFU.[34-36]

As detailed above, PTCH1 provides both developmental and regulatory guidance; spontaneous or inherited germline mutations of PTCH1 in BCNS may result in a wide spectrum of potentially diagnostic physical findings. The BCNS mutation has been localized to chromosome 9q22.3-q31, with a maximum logarithm of the odd (LOD) score of 3.597 and 6.457 at markers D9S12 and D9S53.[31] The resulting haploinsufficiency of PTCH1 in BCNS has been associated with structural anomalies such as odontogenic keratocysts, with evaluation of the cyst lining revealing heterozygosity for PTCH1.[37] The development of BCC and other BCNS-associated malignancies is thought to arise from the classic two-hit suppressor gene model: baseline heterozygosity secondary to germline PTCH1 mutation as the first hit, with the second hit due to mutagen exposure such as UV or ionizing radiation.[38-42] However, haploinsufficiency or dominant negative isoforms have also been implicated for the inactivation of PTCH1.[43]

The diagnosis of BCNS is typically based upon characteristic clinical and radiologic examination findings. Several sets of clinical diagnostic criteria for BCNS are in use (refer to Table 1 for a comparison of these criteria).[44-47] Although each set of criteria has advantages and disadvantages, none of the sets have a clearly superior balance of sensitivity and specificity for identifying mutation carriers. The BCNS Colloquium Group proposed criteria in 2011 that required 1 major criterion with molecular diagnosis, two major criteria without molecular diagnosis, or one major and two minor criteria without molecular diagnosis.[47] PTCH1 mutations are found in 60% to 85% of patients who meet clinical criteria.[48,49] Most notably, BCNS is associated with the formation of both benign and malignant neoplasms. The strongest benign neoplasm association is with ovarian fibromas, diagnosed in 14% to 24% of females affected by BCNS.[41,45,50] BCNS-associated ovarian fibromas are more likely to be bilateral and calcified than sporadic ovarian fibromas.[51] Ameloblastomas, aggressive tumors of the odontogenic epithelium, have also been proposed as a diagnostic criterion for BCNS, but most groups do not include it at this time.[52]

Other associated benign neoplasms include gastric hamartomatous polyps,[53] congenital pulmonary cysts,[54] cardiac fibromas,[55] meningiomas,[56-58] craniopharyngiomas,[59] fetal rhabdomyomas,[60] leiomyomas,[61] mesenchymomas,[62] and nasal dermoid tumors. Development of meningiomas and ependymomas occurring postradiation therapy has been documented in the general pediatric population; radiation therapy for syndrome-associated intracranial processes may be partially responsible for a subset of these benign tumors in individuals with BCNS.[63-65] In addition, radiation therapy of malignant medulloblastomas in the BCNS population may result in many cutaneous BCCs in the radiation ports. Similarly, treatment of BCC of the skin with radiation therapy may result in induction of large numbers of additional BCCs.[40,41,61]

The diagnostic criteria for BCNS are described in Table 1 below.

Of greatest concern with BCNS are associated malignant neoplasms, the most common of which is BCC. BCC in individuals with BCNS may appear during childhood as small acrochordon -like lesions, while larger lesions demonstrate more classic cutaneous features.[66] Nonpigmented BCCs are more common than pigmented lesions.[67] The age at first BCC diagnosis associated with BCNS ranges from 3 to 53 years, with a mean age of 21.4 years; the vast majority of individuals are diagnosed with their first BCC before age 20 years.[45,50] Most BCCs are located on sun-exposed sites, but individuals with greater than 100 BCCs have a more uniform distribution of BCCs over the body.[67] Case series have suggested that up to 1 in 200 individuals with BCC demonstrate findings supportive of a diagnosis of BCNS.[31] BCNS has rarely been reported in individuals with darker skin pigmentation; however, significantly fewer BCCs are found in individuals of African or Mediterranean ancestry.[45,68,69] Despite the rarity of BCC in this population, reported cases document full expression of the noncutaneous manifestations of BCNS.[69] However, in individuals of African ancestry who have received radiation therapy, significant basal cell tumor burden has been reported within the radiation port distribution.[45,61] Thus, cutaneous pigmentation may protect against the mutagenic effects of UV but not against ionizing radiation.

Variants associated with an increased risk of BCC in the general population appear to modify the age of BCC onset in individuals with BCNS. A study of 125 individuals with BCNS found that a variant in MC1R (Arg151Cys) was associated with an early median age of onset of 27 years (95% CI, 2034), compared with individuals who did not carry the risk allele and had a median age of BCC of 34 years (95% CI, 3040) (hazard ratio [HR], 1.64; 95% CI, 1.042.58, P = .034). A variant in the TERT-CLPTM1L gene showed a similar effect, with individuals with the risk allele having a median age of BCC of 31 years (95% CI, 2837) relative to a median onset of 41 years (95% CI, 3248) in individuals who did not carry a risk allele (HR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.081.93, P = .014).[70]

Many other malignancies have been associated with BCNS. Medulloblastoma carries the strongest association with BCNS and is diagnosed in 1% to 5% of BCNS cases. While BCNS-associated medulloblastoma is typically diagnosed between ages 2 and 3 years, sporadic medulloblastoma is usually diagnosed later in childhood, between the ages of 6 and 10 years.[41,45,50,71] A desmoplastic phenotype occurring around age 2 years is very strongly associated with BCNS and carries a more favorable prognosis than sporadic classic medulloblastoma.[72,73] Up to three times more males than females with BCNS are diagnosed with medulloblastoma.[74] As with other malignancies, treatment of medulloblastoma with ionizing radiation has resulted in numerous BCCs within the radiation field.[41,56] Other reported malignancies include ovarian carcinoma,[75] ovarian fibrosarcoma,[76,77] astrocytoma,[78] melanoma,[79] Hodgkin disease,[80,81] rhabdomyosarcoma,[82] and undifferentiated sinonasal carcinoma.[83]

Odontogenic keratocystsor keratocystic odontogenic tumors (KCOTs), as renamed by the World Health Organization working groupare one of the major features of BCNS.[84] Demonstration of clonal loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of common tumor suppressor genes, including PTCH1, supports the transition of terminology to reflect a neoplastic process.[37] Less than one-half of KCOTs from individuals with BCNS show LOH of PTCH1.[43,85] The tumors are lined with a thin squamous epithelium and a thin corrugated layer of parakeratin. Increased mitotic activity in the tumor epithelium and potential budding of the basal layer with formation of daughter cysts within the tumor wall may be responsible for the high rates of recurrence post simple enucleation.[84,86] In a recent case series of 183 consecutively excised KCOTs, 6% of individuals demonstrated an association with BCNS.[84] A study that analyzed the rate of PTCH1 mutations in BCNS-associated KCOTs found that 11 of 17 individuals carried a germline PTCH1 mutation and an additional 3 individuals had somatic mutations in this gene.[87] Individuals with germline PTCH1 mutations had an early age of KCOT presentation. KCOTs occur in 65% to 100% of individuals with BCNS,[45,88] with higher rates of occurrence in young females.[89]

Palmoplantar pits are another major finding in BCC and occur in 70% to 80% of individuals with BCNS.[50] When these pits occur together with early-onset BCC and/or KCOTs, they are considered diagnostic for BCNS.[90]

Several characteristic radiologic findings have been associated with BCNS, including lamellar calcification of falx cerebri;[91,92] fused, splayed or bifid ribs;[93] and flame-shaped lucencies or pseudocystic bone lesions of the phalanges, carpal, tarsal, long bones, pelvis, and calvaria.[49] Imaging for rib abnormalities may be useful in establishing the diagnosis in younger children, who may have not yet fully manifested a diagnostic array on physical examination.

Table 2 summarizes the frequency and median age of onset of nonmalignant findings associated with BCNS.

Individuals with PTCH2 mutations may have a milder phenotype of BCNS than those with PTCH1 mutations. Characteristic features such as palmar/plantar pits, macrocephaly, falx calcification, hypertelorism, and coarse face may be absent in these individuals.[94]

A 9p22.3 microdeletion syndrome that includes the PTCH1 locus has been described in ten children.[95] All patients had facial features typical of BCNS, including a broad forehead, but they had other features variably including craniosynostosis, hydrocephalus, macrosomia, and developmental delay. At the time of the report, none had basal cell skin cancer. On the basis of their hemizygosity of the PTCH1 gene, these patients are presumably at an increased risk of basal cell skin cancer.

Germline mutations in SUFU, a major negative regulator of the hedgehog pathway, have been identified in a small number of individuals with a clinical phenotype resembling that of BCNS.[35,36] These mutations were first identified in individuals with childhood medulloblastoma,[96] and the incidence of medulloblastoma appears to be much higher in individuals with BCNS associated with SUFU mutations than in those with PTCH1 mutations.[35] SUFU mutations may also be associated with an increased predisposition to meningioma.[58,97] Conversely, odontogenic jaw keratocysts appear less frequently in this population. Some clinical laboratories offer genetic testing for SUFU mutations for individuals with BCNS who do not have an identifiable PTCH1 mutation.

Rombo syndrome, a very rare probably autosomal dominant genetic disorder associated with BCC, has been outlined in three case series in the literature.[98-100] The cutaneous examination is within normal limits until age 7 to 10 years, with the development of distinctive cyanotic erythema of the lips, hands, and feet and early atrophoderma vermiculatum of the cheeks, with variable involvement of the elbows and dorsal hands and feet.[98] Development of BCC occurs in the fourth decade.[98] A distinctive grainy texture to the skin, secondary to interspersed small, yellowish, follicular-based papules and follicular atrophy, has been described.[98,100] Missing, irregularly distributed and/or misdirected eyelashes and eyebrows are another associated finding.[98,99] The genetic basis of Rombo syndrome is not known.

Bazex-Dupr-Christol syndrome, another rare genodermatosis associated with development of BCC, has more thorough documentation in the literature than Rombo syndrome. Inheritance is accomplished in an X-linked dominant fashion, with no reported male-to-male transmission.[101-103] Regional assignment of the locus of interest to chromosome Xq24-q27 is associated with a maximum LOD score of 5.26 with the DXS1192 locus.[104] Further work has narrowed the potential location to an 11.4-Mb interval on chromosome Xq25-27; however, the causative gene remains unknown.[105]

Characteristic physical findings include hypotrichosis, hypohidrosis, milia, follicular atrophoderma of the cheeks, and multiple BCC, which manifest in the late second decade to early third decade.[101] Documented hair changes with Bazex-Dupr-Christol syndrome include reduced density of scalp and body hair, decreased melanization,[106] a twisted/flattened appearance of the hair shaft on electron microscopy,[107] and increased hair shaft diameter on polarizing light microscopy.[103] The milia, which may be quite distinctive in childhood, have been reported to regress or diminish substantially at puberty.[103] Other reported findings in association with this syndrome include trichoepitheliomas; hidradenitis suppurativa; hypoplastic alae; and a prominent columella, the fleshy terminal portion of the nasal septum.[108,109]

A rare subtype of epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS), Dowling-Meara (EBS-DM), is primarily inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion and is associated with mutations in either keratin-5 (KRT5) or keratin-14 (KRT14).[110] EBS-DM is one of the most severe types of EBS and occasionally results in mortality in early childhood.[111] One report cites an incidence of BCC of 44% by age 55 years in this population.[112] Individuals who inherit two EBS mutations may present with a more severe phenotype.[113] Other less phenotypically severe subtypes of EBS can also be caused by mutations in either KRT5 or KRT14.[110] Approximately 75% of individuals with a clinical diagnosis of EBS (regardless of subtype) have KRT5 or KRT14 mutations.[114]

Characteristics of hereditary syndromes associated with a predisposition to BCC are described in Table 3 below.

(Refer to the Brooke-Spiegler Syndrome, Multiple Familial Trichoepithelioma, and Familial Cylindromatosis section in the Rare Skin Cancer Syndromes section of this summary for more information about Brooke-Spiegler syndrome.)

As detailed further below, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend regular screening for the early detection of any cutaneous malignancies, including BCC. However, once BCC is detected, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines of care for NMSCs recommends complete skin examinations every 6 to 12 months for life.[125]

The BCNS Colloquium Group has proposed guidelines for the surveillance of individuals with BCNS (see Table 4).

Level of evidence: 5

Avoidance of excessive cumulative and sporadic sun exposure is important in reducing the risk of BCC, along with other cutaneous malignancies. Scheduling activities outside of the peak hours of UV radiation, utilizing sun-protective clothing and hats, using sunscreen liberally, and strictly avoiding tanning beds are all reasonable steps towards minimizing future risk of skin cancer.[126] For patients with particular genetic susceptibility (such as BCNS), avoidance or minimization of ionizing radiation is essential to reducing future tumor burden.

Level of evidence: 2aii

The role of various systemic retinoids, including isotretinoin and acitretin, has been explored in the chemoprevention and treatment of multiple BCCs, particularly in BCNS patients. In one study of isotretinoin use in 12 patients with multiple BCCs, including 5 patients with BCNS, tumor regression was noted, with decreasing efficacy as the tumor diameter increased.[127] However, the results were insufficient to recommend use of systemic retinoids for treatment of BCC. Three additional patients, including one with BCNS, were followed long-term for evaluation of chemoprevention with isotretinoin, demonstrating significant decrease in the number of tumors per year during treatment.[127] Although the rate of tumor development tends to increase sharply upon discontinuation of systemic retinoid therapy, in some patients the rate remains lower than their pretreatment rate, allowing better management and control of their cutaneous malignancies.[127-129] In summary, the use of systemic retinoids for chemoprevention of BCC is reasonable in high-risk patients, including patients with xeroderma pigmentosum, as discussed in the Squamous Cell Carcinoma section of this summary.

A patients cumulative and evolving tumor load should be evaluated carefully in light of the potential long-term use of a medication class with cumulative and idiosyncratic side effects. Given the possible side-effect profile, systemic retinoid use is best managed by a practitioner with particular expertise and comfort with the medication class. However, for all potentially childbearing women, strict avoidance of pregnancy during the systemic retinoid courseand for 1 month after completion of isotretinoin and 3 years after completion of acitretinis essential to avoid potentially fatal and devastating fetal malformations.

Level of evidence (retinoids): 2aii

In a phase II study of 41 patients with BCNS, vismodegib (an inhibitor of the hedgehog pathway) has been shown to reduce the per-patient annual rate of new BCCs requiring surgery.[130] Existing BCCs also regressed for these patients during daily treatment with 150 mg of oral vismodegib. While patients treated had visible regression of their tumors, biopsy demonstrated residual microscopic malignancies at the site, and tumors progressed after the discontinuation of the therapy. Adverse effects included taste disturbance, muscle cramps, hair loss, and weight loss and led to discontinuation of the medication in 54% of subjects. Based on the side-effect profile and rate of disease recurrence after discontinuation of the medication, additional study regarding optimal dosing of vismodegib is ongoing.

Level of evidence (vismodegib): 1aii

A phase III, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluated the effects of oral nicotinamide (vitamin B3) in 386 individuals with a history of at least two NMSCs within 5 years before study enrollment.[131] After 12 months of treatment, those taking nicotinamide 500 mg twice daily had a 20% reduction in the incidence of new BCCs (95% CI, 6%39%; P = .12). The rate of new NMSCs was 23% lower in the nicotinamide group (95% CI, 438; P =.02) than in the placebo group. No clinically significant differences in adverse events were observed between the two groups, and there was no evidence of benefit after discontinuation of nicotinamide. Of note, this study was not conducted in a population with an identified genetic predisposition to BCC.

Level of evidence (nicotinamide): 1aii

Treatment of individual BCCs in BCNS is generally the same as for sporadic basal cell cancers. Due to the large number of lesions on some patients, this can present a surgical challenge. Field therapy with imiquimod or photodynamic therapy are attractive options, as they can treat multiple tumors simultaneously.[132,133] However, given the radiosensitivity of patients with BCNS, radiation as a therapeutic option for large tumors should be avoided.[45] There are no randomized trials, but the isolated case reports suggest that field therapy has similar results as in sporadic basal cell cancer, with higher success rates for superficial cancers than for nodular cancers.[132,133]

Consensus guidelines for the use of methylaminolevulinate photodynamic therapy in BCNS recommend that this modality may best be used for superficial BCC of all sizes and for nodular BCC less than 2 mm thick.[134] Monthly therapy with photodynamic therapy may be considered for these patients as clinically indicated.

Level of evidence (imiquimod and photodynamic therapy): 4

Topical treatment with LDE225, a Smoothened agonist, has also been investigated for the treatment of BCC in a small number of patients with BCNS with promising results;[135] however, this medication is not approved in this formulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Level of evidence (LDE225): 1

In addition to its effects on the prevention of BCCs in patients with BCNS, vismodegib may also have a palliative effect on KCOTs found in this population. An initial report indicated that the use of GDC-0449, the hedgehog pathway inhibitor now known as vismodegib, resulted in resolution of KCOTs in one patient with BCNS.[136] Another small study found that four of six patients who took 150 mg of vismodegib daily had a reduction in the size of KCOTs.[137] None of the six patients in this study had new KCOTs or an increase in the size of existing KCOTs while being treated, and one patient had a sustained response that lasted 9 months after treatment was discontinued.

Level of evidence (vismodegib): 3diii

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer and accounts for approximately 20% of cutaneous malignancies. Although most cancer registries do not include information on the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC), annual incidence estimates range from 1 million to 5.4 million cases in the United States.[1,2]

Mortality is rare from this cancer; however, the morbidity and costs associated with its treatment are considerable.

Sun exposure is the major known environmental factor associated with the development of skin cancer of all types; however, different patterns of sun exposure are associated with each major type of skin cancer.

Unlike basal cell carcinoma (BCC), SCC is associated with chronic exposure, rather than intermittent intense exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Occupational exposure is the characteristic pattern of sun exposure linked with SCC.[3] A case-control study in southern Europe showed increased risk of SCC when lifetime sun exposure exceeded 70,000 hours. People whose lifetime sun exposure equaled or exceeded 200,000 hours had an odds ratio (OR) 8 to 9 times that of the reference group.[4] A Canadian case-control study did not find an association between cumulative lifetime sun exposure and SCC; however, sun exposure in the 10 years before diagnosis and occupational exposure were found to be risk factors.[5]

In addition to environmental radiation, exposure to therapeutic radiation is another risk factor for SCC. Individuals with skin disorders treated with psoralen and ultraviolet-A radiation (PUVA) had a threefold to sixfold increase in SCC.[6] This effect appears to be dose-dependent, as only 7% of individuals who underwent fewer than 200 treatments had SCC, compared with more than 50% of those who underwent more than 400 treatments.[7] Therapeutic use of ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation has also been shown to cause a mild increase in SCC (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.37).[8] Devices such as tanning beds also emit UV radiation and have been associated with increased SCC risk, with a reported OR of 2.5 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.73.8).[9]

Investigation into the effect of ionizing radiation on SCC carcinogenesis has yielded conflicting results. One population-based case-control study found that patients who had undergone therapeutic radiation therapy had an increased risk of SCC at the site of previous radiation (OR, 2.94), compared with individuals who had not undergone radiation treatments.[10] Cohort studies of radiology technicians, atomic-bomb survivors, and survivors of childhood cancers have not shown an increased risk of SCC, although the incidence of BCC was increased in all of these populations.[11-13] For those who develop SCC at previously radiated sites that are not sun-exposed, the latent period appears to be quite long; these cancers may be diagnosed years or even decades after the radiation exposure.[14]

The effect of other types of radiation, such as cosmic radiation, is also controversial. Pilots and flight attendants have a reported incidence of SCC that ranges between 2.1 and 9.9 times what would be expected; however, the overall cancer incidence is not consistently elevated. Some attribute the high rate of NMSCs in airline flight personnel to cosmic radiation, while others suspect lifestyle factors.[15-20]

Like BCCs, SCCs appear to be associated with exposure to arsenic in drinking water and combustion products.[21,22] However, this association may hold true only for the highest levels of arsenic exposure. Individuals who had toenail concentrations of arsenic above the 97th percentile were found to have an approximately twofold increase in SCC risk.[23] For arsenic, the latency period can be lengthy; invasive SCC has been found to develop at an average of 20 years after exposure.[24]

Current or previous cigarette smoking has been associated with a 1.5-fold to 2-fold increase in SCC risk,[25-27] although one large study showed no change in risk.[28] Available evidence suggests that the effect of smoking on cancer risk seems to be greater for SCC than for BCC.

Additional reports have suggested weak associations between SCC and exposure to insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides.[29]

Like melanoma and BCC, SCC occurs more frequently in individuals with lighter skin than in those with darker skin.[3,30] A case-control study of 415 cases and 415 controls showed similar findings; relative to Fitzpatrick Type I skin, individuals with increasingly darker skin had decreased risks of skin cancer (ORs, 0.6, 0.3, and 0.1, for Fitzpatrick Types II, III, and IV, respectively).[31] (Refer to the Pigmentary characteristics section in the Melanoma section of this summary for a more detailed discussion of skin phenotypes based upon pigmentation.) The same study found that blue eyes and blond/red hair were also associated with increased risks of SCC, with crude ORs of 1.7 (95% CI, 1.22.3) for blue eyes, 1.5 (95% CI, 1.12.1) for blond hair, and 2.2 (95% CI, 1.53.3) for red hair.

However, SCC can also occur in individuals with darker skin. An Asian registry based in Singapore reported an increase in skin cancer in that geographic area, with an incidence rate of 8.9 per 100,000 person-years. Incidence of SCC, however, was shown to be on the decline.[30] SCC is the most common form of skin cancer in black individuals in the United States and in certain parts of Africa; the mortality rate for this disease is relatively high in these populations.[32,33] Epidemiologic characteristics of, and prevention strategies for, SCC in those individuals with darker skin remain areas of investigation.

Freckling of the skin and reaction of the skin to sun exposure have been identified as other risk factors for SCC.[34] Individuals with heavy freckling on the forearm were found to have a 14-fold increase in SCC risk if freckling was present in adulthood, and an almost threefold risk if freckling was present in childhood.[34,35] The degree of SCC risk corresponded to the amount of freckling. In this study, the inability of the skin to tan and its propensity to burn were also significantly associated with risk of SCC (OR of 2.9 for severe burn and 3.5 for no tan).

The presence of scars on the skin can also increase the risk of SCC, although the process of carcinogenesis in this setting may take years or even decades. SCCs arising in chronic wounds are referred to as Marjolins ulcers. The mean time for development of carcinoma in these wounds is estimated at 26 years.[36] One case report documents the occurrence of cancer in a wound that was incurred 59 years earlier.[37]

Immunosuppression also contributes to the formation of NMSCs. Among solid-organ transplant recipients, the risk of SCC is 65 to 250 times higher, and the risk of BCC is 10 times higher than that observed in the general population, although the risks vary with transplant type.[38-41] NMSCs in high-risk patients (solid-organ transplant recipients and chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients) occur at a younger age, are more common and more aggressive, and have a higher risk of recurrence and metastatic spread than these cancers do in the general population.[42,43] Additionally, there is a high risk of second SCCs.[44,45] In one study, over 65% of kidney transplant recipients developed subsequent SCCs after their first diagnosis.[44] Among patients with an intact immune system, BCCs outnumber SCCs by a 4:1 ratio; in transplant patients, SCCs outnumber BCCs by a 2:1 ratio.

This increased risk has been linked to an interaction between the level of immunosuppression and UV radiation exposure. As the duration and dosage of immunosuppressive agents increase, so does the risk of cutaneous malignancy; this effect is reversed with decreasing the dosage of, or taking a break from, immunosuppressive agents. Heart transplant recipients, requiring the highest rates of immunosuppression, are at much higher risk of cutaneous malignancy than liver transplant recipients, in whom much lower levels of immunosuppression are needed to avoid rejection.[38,46,47] The risk appears to be highest in geographic areas with high UV exposure.[47] When comparing Australian and Dutch organ transplant populations, the Australian patients carried a fourfold increased risk of developing SCC and a fivefold increased risk of developing BCC.[48] This finding underlines the importance of rigorous sun avoidance, particularly among high-risk immunosuppressed individuals.

Certain immunosuppressive agents have been associated with increased risk of SCC. Kidney transplant patients who received cyclosporine in addition to azathioprine and prednisolone had a 2.8-fold increase in risk of SCC over those kidney transplant patients on azathioprine and prednisolone alone.[38] In cardiac transplant patients, increased incidence of SCC was seen in individuals who had received OKT3 (muromonab-CD3), a murine monoclonal antibody against the CD3 receptor.[49]

A personal history of BCC or SCC is strongly associated with subsequent SCC. A study from Ireland showed that individuals with a history of BCC had a 14% higher incidence of subsequent SCC; for men with a history of BCC, the subsequent SCC risk was 27% higher.[50] In the same report, individuals with melanoma were also 2.5 times more likely to report a subsequent SCC. There is an approximate 20% increased risk of a subsequent lesion within the first year after a skin cancer has been diagnosed. The mean age of occurrence for these NMSCs is the middle of the sixth decade of life.[26,51-55]

A Swedish study of 224 melanoma index cases and 944 of their first-degree relatives (FDRs) from 154 CDKN2A wild-type families and 11,680 matched controls showed that personal and family histories of melanoma increased the risk of SCC, with relative risks (RRs) of 9.1 (95% CI, 6.013.7) for personal history and 3.4 (95% CI, 2.25.2) for family history.[56]

Although the literature is scant on this subject, a family history of SCC may increase the risk of SCC in FDRs. In an independent survey-based study of 415 SCC cases and 415 controls, SCC risk was increased in individuals with a family history of SCC (adjusted OR, 3.4; 95% CI, 1.011.6), even after adjustment for skin type, hair color, and eye color.[31] This risk was elevated to an OR of 5.6 in those with a family history of melanoma (95% CI, 1.619.7), 9.8 in those with a family history of BCC (95% CI, 2.636.8), and 10.5 in those with a family history of multiple types of skin cancer (95% CI, 2.729.6). Review of the Swedish Family Center Database showed that individuals with at least one sibling or parent affected with SCC, in situ SCC (Bowen disease), or actinic keratosis had a twofold to threefold increased risk of invasive and in situ SCC relative to the general population.[57,58] Increased number of tumors in parents was associated with increased risk to the offspring. Of note, diagnosis of the proband at an earlier age was not consistently associated with a trend of increased incidence of SCC in the FDR, as would be expected in most hereditary syndromes because of germline mutations. Further analysis of the Swedish population-based data estimates genetic risk effects of 8% and familial shared-environmental effects of 18%.[59] Thus, shared environmental and behavioral factors likely account for some of the observed familial clustering of SCC.

A study on the heritability of cancer among 80,309 monozygotic and 123,382 dizygotic twins showed that NMSCs have a heritability of 43% (95% CI, 26%59%), suggesting that almost half of the risk of NMSC is caused by inherited factors.[60] Additionally, the cumulative risk of NMSC was 1.9-fold higher for monozygotic than for dizygotic twins (95% CI, 1.82.0).[60]

Major genes have been defined elsewhere in this summary as genes that are necessary and sufficient for disease, with important mutations of the gene as causal. The disorders resulting from single-gene mutations within families lead to a very high risk of disease and are relatively rare. The influence of the environment on the development of disease in individuals with these single-gene disorders is often very difficult to determine because of the rarity of the genetic mutation.

Identification of a strong environmental risk factorchronic exposure to UV radiationmakes it difficult to apply genetic causation for SCC of the skin. Although the risk of UV exposure is well known, quantifying its attributable risk to cancer development has proven challenging. In addition, ascertainment of cases of SCC of the skin is not always straightforward. Many registries and other epidemiologic studies do not fully assess the incidence of SCC of the skin owing to: (1) the common practice of treating lesions suspicious for SCC without a diagnostic biopsy, and (2) the relatively low potential for metastasis. Moreover, NMSC is routinely excluded from the major cancer registries such as the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry.

With these considerations in mind, the discussion below will address genes associated with disorders that have an increased incidence of skin cancer.

Characteristics of the major hereditary syndromes associated with a predisposition to SCC are described in Table 5 below.

Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a hereditary disorder of nucleotide excision repair that results in cutaneous malignancies in the first decade of life. Affected individuals have an increased sensitivity to sunlight, resulting in a markedly increased risk of SCCs, BCCs, and melanomas. One report found that NMSC was increased 150-fold in individuals with XP; for those younger than 20 years, the prevalence was almost 5,000 times what would be expected in the general population.[61]

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Genetics of Prostate Cancer (PDQ)Health Professional …


[Note: Many of the medical and scientific terms used in this summary are found in the NCI Dictionary of Genetics Terms. When a linked term is clicked, the definition will appear in a separate window.]

[Note: Many of the genes described in this summary are found in the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database. When OMIM appears after a gene name or the name of a condition, click on OMIM for a link to more information.]

The public health burden of prostate cancer is substantial. A total of 180,890 new cases of prostate cancer and 26,120 deaths from the disease are anticipated in the United States in 2016, making it the most frequent nondermatologic cancer among U.S. males.[1] A mans lifetime risk of prostate cancer is one in seven. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, exceeded only by lung cancer.[1]

Some men with prostate cancer remain asymptomatic and die from unrelated causes rather than as a result of the cancer itself. This may be due to the advanced age of many men at the time of diagnosis, slow tumor growth, or response to therapy.[2] The estimated number of men with latent prostate carcinoma (i.e., prostate cancer that is present in the prostate gland but never detected or diagnosed during a patients life) is greater than the number of men with clinically detected disease. A better understanding is needed of the genetic and biologic mechanisms that determine why some prostate carcinomas remain clinically silent, while others cause serious, even life-threatening illness.[2]

Prostate cancer exhibits tremendous differences in incidence among populations worldwide; the ratio of countries with high and low rates of prostate cancer ranges from 60-fold to 100-fold.[3] Asian men typically have a very low incidence of prostate cancer, with age-adjusted incidence rates ranging from 2 to 10 cases per 100,000 men. Higher incidence rates are generally observed in northern European countries. African American men, however, have the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world; within the United States, African American men have a 60% higher incidence rate than white men.[4] African American men have been reported to have more than twice the rate of prostate cancerspecific death compared with non-Hispanic white men.[1] Differences in race-specific prostate cancer survival estimates may be narrowing over time.[5]

These differences may be due to the interplay of genetic, environmental, and social influences (such as access to health care), which may affect the development and progression of the disease.[6] Differences in screening practices have also had a substantial influence on prostate cancer incidence, by permitting prostate cancer to be diagnosed in some patients before symptoms develop or before abnormalities on physical examination are detectable. An analysis of population-based data from Sweden suggested that a diagnosis of prostate cancer in one brother leads to an early diagnosis in a second brother using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening.[7] This may account for an increase in prostate cancer diagnosed in younger men that was evident in nationwide incidence data. A genetic contribution to prostate cancer risk has been documented, and there is increasing knowledge of the molecular genetics of the disease, although much of what is known is not yet clinically actionable. Malignant transformation of prostate epithelial cells and progression of prostate carcinoma are likely to result from a complex series of initiation and promotional events under both genetic and environmental influences.[8]

The three most important recognized risk factors for prostate cancer in the United States are:

Age is an important risk factor for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is rarely seen in men younger than 40 years; the incidence rises rapidly with each decade thereafter. For example, the probability of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is 1 in 325 for men 49 years or younger, 1 in 48 for men aged 50 through 59 years, 1 in 17 for men aged 60 through 69 years, and 1 in 10 for men aged 70 years and older, with an overall lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer of 1 in 7.[1]

Approximately 10% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in men younger than 56 years and represent early-onset prostate cancer. Data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program show that early-onset prostate cancer is increasing, and there is evidence that some cases may be more aggressive.[9] Because early-onset cancers may result from germline mutations, young men with prostate cancer are being extensively studied with the goal of identifying prostate cancer susceptibility genes.

The risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer is dramatically higher among blacks, is of intermediate levels among whites, and is lowest among native Japanese.[10,11] Conflicting data have been published regarding the etiology of these outcomes, but some evidence is available that access to health care may play a role in disease outcomes.[12]

Prostate cancer is highly heritable; the inherited risk of prostate cancer has been estimated to be as high as 60%.[13] As with breast and colon cancer, familial clustering of prostate cancer has been reported frequently.[14-18] From 5% to 10% of prostate cancer cases are believed to be primarily caused by high-risk inherited genetic factors or prostate cancer susceptibility genes. Results from several large case-control studies and cohort studies representing various populations suggest that family history is a major risk factor in prostate cancer.[15,19,20] A family history of a brother or father with prostate cancer increases the risk of prostate cancer, and the risk is inversely related to the age of the affected relative.[16-20] However, at least some familial aggregation is due to increased prostate cancer screening in families thought to be at high risk.[21]

Although some of the prostate cancer studies examining risks associated with family history have used hospital-based series, several studies described population-based series.[22-24] The latter are thought to provide information that is more generalizable. A meta-analysis of 33 epidemiologic case-control and cohort-based studies has provided more detailed information regarding risk ratios related to family history of prostate cancer. Risk appeared to be greater for men with affected brothers than for men with affected fathers in this meta-analysis. Although the reason for this difference in risk is unknown, possible hypotheses have included X-linked or recessive inheritance. In addition, risk increased with increasing numbers of affected close relatives. Risk also increased when a first-degree relative (FDR) was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65 years. (See Table 1 for a summary of the relative risks [RRs] related to a family history of prostate cancer.)[25]

Among the many data sources included in this meta-analysis, those from the Swedish population-based Family-Cancer Database warrant special comment. These data were derived from a resource that contained more than 11.8 million individuals, among whom there were 26,651 men with medically verified prostate cancer, of which 5,623 were familial cases.[26] The size of this data set, with its nearly complete ascertainment of the entire Swedish population and objective verification of cancer diagnoses, should yield risk estimates that are both accurate and free of bias. When the familial age-specific hazard ratios (HRs) for prostate cancer diagnosis and mortality were computed, as expected, the HR for prostate cancer diagnosis increased with more family history. Specifically, HRs for prostate cancer were 2.12 (95% CI, 2.052.20) with an affected father only, 2.96 (95% CI, 2.803.13) with an affected brother only, and 8.51 (95% CI, 6.1311.80) with a father and two brothers affected. The highest HR, 17.74 (95% CI, 12.2625.67), was seen in men with three brothers diagnosed with prostate cancer. The HRs were even higher when the affected relative was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 55 years.

A separate analysis of this Swedish database reported that the cumulative (absolute) risks of prostate cancer among men in families with two or more affected cases were 5% by age 60 years, 15% by age 70 years, and 30% by age 80 years, compared with 0.45%, 3%, and 10%, respectively, by the same ages in the general population. The risks were even higher when the affected father was diagnosed before age 70 years.[27] The corresponding familial population attributable fractions (PAFs) were 8.9%, 1.8%, and 1.0% for the same three age groups, respectively, yielding a total PAF of 11.6% (i.e., approximately 11.6% of all prostate cancers in Sweden can be accounted for on the basis of familial history of the disease).

The risk of prostate cancer may also increase in men who have a family history of breast cancer. Approximately 9.6% of the Iowa cohort had a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer in a mother or sister at baseline, and this was positively associated with prostate cancer risk (age-adjusted RR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.03.0; multivariate RR, 1.7; 95% CI, 0.93.2). Men with a family history of both prostate and breast/ovarian cancer were also at increased risk of prostate cancer (RR, 5.8; 95% CI, 2.414.0).[22] Analysis of data from the Women’s Health Initiative also showed that a family history of prostate cancer was associated with an increase in the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer (adjusted HR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.021.26).[28] Further analyses showed that breast cancer risk was associated with a family history of both breast and prostate cancers; the risk was higher in black women than in white women. Other studies, however, did not find an association between family history of female breast cancer and risk of prostate cancer.[22,29] A family history of prostate cancer also increases the risk of breast cancer among female relatives.[30] The association between prostate cancer and breast cancer in the same family may be explained, in part, by the increased risk of prostate cancer among men with BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations in the setting of hereditary breast/ovarian cancer or early-onset prostate cancer.[31-34] (Refer to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 section of this summary for more information.)

Prostate cancer clusters with particular intensity in some families. Highly penetrant genetic variants are thought to be associated with prostate cancer risk in these families. (Refer to the Linkage Analyses section of this summary for more information.) Members of such families may benefit from genetic counseling. Emerging recommendations and guidelines for genetic counseling referrals are based on prostate cancer age at diagnosis and specific family cancer history patterns.[35,36] Individuals meeting the following criteria may warrant referral for genetic consultation:[35-38]

Family history has been shown to be a risk factor for men of different races and ethnicities. In a population-based case-control study of prostate cancer among African Americans, whites, and Asian Americans in the United States (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Hawaii) and Canada (Vancouver and Toronto),[39] 5% of controls and 13% of all cases reported a father, brother, or son with prostate cancer. These prevalence estimates were somewhat lower among Asian Americans than among African Americans or whites. A positive family history was associated with a twofold to threefold increase in RR in each of the three ethnic groups. The overall odds ratio associated with a family history of prostate cancer was 2.5 (95% CI, 1.93.3) with adjustment for age and ethnicity.[39]

Endogenous hormones, including both androgens and estrogens, likely influence prostate carcinogenesis. It has been widely reported that eunuchs and other individuals with castrate levels of testosterone before puberty do not develop prostate cancer.[40] Some investigators have considered the potential role of genetic variation in androgen biosynthesis and metabolism in prostate cancer risk,[41] including the potential role of the androgen receptor (AR) CAG repeat length in exon 1. This modulates AR activity, which may influence prostate cancer risk.[42] For example, a meta-analysis reported that AR CAG repeat length greater than or equal to 20 repeats conferred a protective effect for prostate cancer in subsets of men.[43]

(Refer to the PDQ summary on Prostate Cancer Prevention for more information about nongenetic modifiers of prostate cancer risk in the general population.)

The SEER Cancer Registries assessed the risk of developing a second primary cancer in 292,029 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1973 and 2000. Excluding subsequent prostate cancer and adjusting for the risk of death from other causes, the cumulative incidence of a second primary cancer among all patients was 15.2% at 25 years (95% CI, 5.015.4). There was a significant risk of new malignancies (all cancers combined) among men diagnosed before age 50 years, no excess or deficit in cancer risk in men aged 50 to 59 years, and a deficit in cancer risk in all older age groups. The authors suggested that this deficit may be attributable to decreased cancer surveillance in an elderly population. Excess risks of second primary cancers included cancers of the small intestine, soft tissue, bladder, thyroid, and thymus; and melanoma. Prostate cancer diagnosed in patients aged 50 years or younger was associated with an excess risk of pancreatic cancer.[44]

A review of more than 441,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1992 and 2010 demonstrated similar findings, with an overall reduction in the risk of being diagnosed with a second primary cancer. This study also examined the risk of second primary cancers in 44,310 men (10%) by treatment modality for localized cancer. The study suggested that men who received radiation therapy had increases in bladder (standardized incidence ratio [SIR], 1.42) and rectal cancer risk (SIR, 1.70) compared with those who did not receive radiation therapy (SIRbladder, 0.76; SIRrectal, 0.74).[45]

The underlying etiology of developing a second primary cancer after prostate cancer may be related to various factors, including treatment modality. More than 50% of the small intestine tumors were carcinoid malignancies, suggesting possible hormonal influences. The excess of pancreatic cancer may be due to mutations in BRCA2, which predisposes to both. The risk of melanoma was most pronounced in the first year of follow-up after diagnosis, raising the possibility that this is the result of increased screening and surveillance.[44]

One Swedish study using the nationwide Swedish Family Cancer Database assessed the role of family history in the risk of a second primary cancer after prostate cancer. Of 18,207 men with prostate cancer, 560 developed a second primary malignancy. Of those, the RR was increased for colorectal, kidney, bladder, and squamous cell skin cancers. Having a paternal family history of prostate cancer was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, myeloma, and squamous cell skin cancer. Among prostate cancer probands, those with a family history of colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, or chronic lymphoid leukemia were at increased risk of that specific cancer as a second primary cancer.[46]

Several reports have suggested an elevated risk of various other cancers among relatives within multiple-case prostate cancer families, but none of these associations have been established definitively.[47-49]

In a population-based Finnish study of 202 multiple-case prostate cancer families, no excess risk of all cancers combined (other than prostate cancer) was detected in 5,523 family members. Female family members had a marginal excess of gastric cancer (SIR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.03.2). No difference in familial cancer risk was observed when families affected by clinically aggressive prostate cancers were compared with those having nonaggressive prostate cancer. These data suggest that familial prostate cancer is a cancer sitespecific disorder.[50]

Many types of epidemiologic studies (case-control, cohort, twin, family) strongly suggest that prostate cancer susceptibility genes exist in the population. Analysis of longer follow-up of the monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs in Scandinavia concluded that 58% (95% CI, 5263) of prostate cancer risk may be accounted for by heritable factors.[13] Additionally, among affected MZ and DZ pairs, the time to diagnosis in the second twin was shortest in MZ twins (mean, 3.8 years in MZ twins vs. 6.5 years in DZ twins). This is in agreement with a previous U.S. study that showed a concordance of 7.1% between DZ twin pairs and a 27% concordance between MZ twin pairs.[51] The first segregation analysis was performed in 1992 using families from 740 consecutive probands who had radical prostatectomies between 1982 and 1989. The study results suggested that familial clustering of disease among men with early-onset prostate cancer was best explained by the presence of a rare (frequency of 0.003) autosomal dominant, highly penetrant allele(s).[15] Hereditary prostate cancer susceptibility genes were predicted to account for almost half of early-onset disease (age 55 years or younger). In addition, early-onset disease has been further supported to have a strong genetic component from the study of common variants associated with disease onset before age 55 years.[52]

Subsequent segregation analyses generally agreed with the conclusions but differed in the details regarding frequency, penetrance, and mode of inheritance.[53-55] A study of 4,288 men who underwent radical prostatectomy between 1966 and 1995 found that the best fitting genetic model of inheritance was the presence of a rare, autosomal dominant susceptibility gene (frequency of 0.06). In this study, the lifetime risk in carriers was estimated to be 89% by age 85 years and 3.9% for noncarriers.[51] This study also suggested the presence of genetic heterogeneity, as the model did not reliably predict prostate cancer risk in FDRs of probands who were diagnosed at age 70 years or older. More recent segregation analyses have concluded that there are multiple genes associated with prostate cancer [56-59] in a pattern similar to other adult-onset hereditary cancer syndromes, such as those involving the breast, ovary, colorectum, kidney, and melanoma. In addition, a segregation analysis of 1,546 families from Finland found evidence for Mendelian recessive inheritance. Results showed that individuals carrying the risk allele were diagnosed with prostate cancer at younger ages (

Various research methods have been employed to uncover the landscape of genetic variation associated with prostate cancer. Specific methodologies inform of unique phenotypes or inheritance patterns. The sections below describe prostate cancer research utilizing various methods to highlight their role in uncovering the genetic basis of prostate cancer. In an effort to identify disease susceptibility genes, linkage studies are typically performed on high-risk extended families in which multiple cases of a particular disease have occurred. Typically, gene mutations identified through linkage analyses are rare in the population, are moderately to highly penetrant in families, and have large (e.g., relative risk >2.0) effect sizes. The clinical role of mutations that are identified in linkage studies is a clearer one, establishing precedent for genetic testing for cancer with genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. (Refer to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 section in the Genes With Potential Clinical Relevance in Prostate Cancer Risk section of this summary for more information about these genes.) Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are another methodology used to identify candidate loci associated with prostate cancer. Genetic variants identified from GWAS typically are common in the population and have low to modest effect sizes for prostate cancer risk. The clinical role of markers identified from GWAS is an active area of investigation. Case-control studies are useful in validating the findings of linkage studies and GWAS as well as for studying candidate gene alterations for association with prostate cancer risk, although the clinical role of findings from case-control studies needs to be further defined.

The recognition that prostate cancer clusters within families has led many investigators to collect multiple-case families with the goal of localizing prostate cancer susceptibility genes through linkage studies.

Linkage studies are typically performed on high-risk kindreds in whom multiple cases of a particular disease have occurred in an effort to identify disease susceptibility genes. Linkage analysis statistically compares the genotypes between affected and unaffected individuals and looks for evidence that known genetic markers are inherited along with the disease trait. If such evidence is found (linkage), it provides statistical data that the chromosomal region near the marker also harbors a disease susceptibility gene. Once a genomic region of interest has been identified through linkage analysis, additional studies are required to prove that there truly is a susceptibility gene at that position. Linkage analysis is affected by the following:

Furthermore, because a standard definition of hereditary prostate cancer has not been accepted, prostate cancer linkage studies have not used consistent criteria for enrollment.[1] One criterion that has been proposed is the Hopkins Criteria, which provides a working definition of hereditary prostate cancer families.[2] Using the Hopkins Criteria, kindreds with prostate cancer need to fulfill only one of following criteria to be considered to have hereditary prostate cancer:

Using these criteria, surgical series have reported that approximately 3% to 5% of men will be from a family with hereditary prostate cancer.[2,3]

An additional issue in linkage studies is the high background rate of sporadic prostate cancer in the context of family studies. Because a mans lifetime risk of prostate cancer is one in seven,[4] it is possible that families under study have men with both inherited and sporadic prostate cancer. Thus, men who do not inherit the prostate cancer susceptibility gene that is segregating in their family may still develop prostate cancer. There are no clinical or pathological features of prostate cancer that will allow differentiation between inherited and sporadic forms of the disease, although current advances in the understanding of molecular phenotypes of prostate cancer may be informative in identifying inherited prostate cancer. Similarly, there are limited data regarding the clinical phenotype or natural history of prostate cancer associated with specific candidate loci. Measurement of the serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) has been used inconsistently in evaluating families used in linkage analysis studies of prostate cancer. In linkage studies, the definition of an affected man can be biased by the use of serum PSA screening as the rates of prostate cancer in families will differ between screened and unscreened families.

One way to address inconsistencies between linkage studies is to require inclusion criteria that define clinically significant disease (e.g., Gleason score 7, PSA 20 ng/mL) in an affected man.[5-7] This approach attempts to define a homogeneous set of cases/families to increase the likelihood of identifying a linkage signal. It also prevents the inclusion of cases that may be considered clinically insignificant that were identified by screening in families.

Investigators have also incorporated clinical parameters into linkage analyses with the goal of identifying genes that may influence disease severity.[8,9] This type of approach, however, has not yet led to the identification of consistent linkage signals across datasets.[10,11]

Table 2 summarizes the proposed prostate cancer susceptibility loci identified in families with multiple prostate canceraffected individuals. Conflicting evidence exists regarding the linkage to some of the loci described above. Data on the proposed phenotype associated with each locus are also limited, and the strength of repeated studies is needed to firmly establish these associations. Evidence suggests that many of these prostate cancer loci account for disease in a small subset of families, which is consistent with the concept that prostate cancer exhibits locus heterogeneity.

Genome-wide linkage studies of families with prostate cancer have identified several other loci that may harbor prostate cancer susceptibility genes, emphasizing the underlying complexity and genetic heterogeneity of this cancer. The following chromosomal regions have been found to be associated with prostate cancer in more than one study or clinical cohort with a statistically significant (2) logarithm of the odds (LOD) score, heterogeneity LOD (HLOD) score, or summary LOD score:

The chromosomal region 19q has also been found to be associated with prostate cancer, although specific LOD scores have not been described.[8,11,95]

Linkage studies have also been performed in specific populations or with specific clinical parameters to identify population-specific susceptibility genes or genes influencing disease phenotypes.

The African American Hereditary Prostate Cancer study conducted a genome-wide linkage study of 77 families with four or more affected men. Multipoint HLOD scores of 1.3 to less than 2.0 were observed using markers that map to 11q22, 17p11, and Xq21. Analysis of the 16 families with more than six men with prostate cancer provided evidence for two additional loci: 2p21 (multipoint HLOD score = 1.08) and 22q12 (multipoint HLOD score = 0.91).[92,99] A smaller linkage study that included 15 African American hereditary prostate cancer families from the southeastern and southcentral Louisiana region identified suggestive linkage for prostate cancer at 2p16 (HLOD = 1.97) and 12q24 (HLOD = 2.21) using a 6,000 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) platform.[111] Further study including a larger number of African American families is needed to confirm these findings.

In an effort to identify loci contributing to prostate cancer aggressiveness, linkage analysis was performed in families with one or more of the following: Gleason grade 7 or higher, PSA of 20 ng/mL or higher, regional or distant cancer stage at diagnosis, or death from metastatic prostate cancer before age 65 years. One hundred twenty-three families with two or more affected family members with aggressive prostate cancer were studied. Suggestive linkage was found at chromosome 22q11 (HLOD score = 2.18) and 22q12.3-q13.1 (HLOD score = 1.90).[5] These findings suggest that using a clinically defined phenotype may facilitate finding prostate cancer susceptibility genes. A fine-mapping study of 14 extended high-risk prostate cancer families has subsequently narrowed the genomic region of interest to an 880-kb region at 22q12.3.[107] An analysis of high-risk pedigrees from Utah provides an overview of this strategy.[112] A linkage analysis utilizing a higher resolution marker set of 6,000 SNPs was performed among 348 families from the International Consortium for Prostate Cancer Genetics with aggressive prostate cancer.[44] Aggressive disease was defined as Gleason score 7 or higher, invasion into seminal vesicles or extracapsular extension, pretreatment PSA level of 20 ng/mL or higher, or death from prostate cancer. The region with strongest evidence of linkage among aggressive prostate cancer families was 8q24 with LOD scores of 3.093.17. Additional regions of linkage included with LOD scores of 2 or higher included 1q43, 2q35, and 12q24.31. No candidate genes have been identified.

In light of the multiple prostate cancer susceptibility loci and disease heterogeneity, another approach has been to stratify families based on other cancers, given that many cancer susceptibility genes are pleiotropic.[113] A genome-wide linkage study was conducted to identify a susceptibility locus that may account for both prostate cancer and kidney cancer in families. Analysis of 15 families with evidence of hereditary prostate cancer and one or more cases of kidney cancer (pathologically confirmed) in a man with prostate cancer or in a first-degree relative of a man with prostate cancer revealed suggestive linkage with markers that mapped to an 8 cM region of chromosome 11p11.2-q12.2.[114] This observation awaits confirmation. Another genome-wide linkage study was conducted in 96 hereditary prostate cancer families with one or more first-degree relatives with colon cancer. Evidence for linkage in all families was found in several regions, including 11q25, 15q14, and 18q21. In families with two or more cases of colon cancer, linkage was also observed at 1q31, 11q14, and 15q11-14.[113]

Linkage to chromosome 17q21-22 and subsequent fine-mapping and targeted sequencing have identified recurrent mutations in the HOXB13 gene that account for a fraction of hereditary prostate cancer, particularly early-onset prostate cancer. Multiple studies have confirmed the association between the G84E mutation in HOXB13 and prostate cancer risk. (Refer to the HOXB13 section of this summary for more information.) The clinical utility of testing for HOXB13 mutations has not yet been defined, but studies are ongoing to define the clinical role. For example, a study evaluated 948 unselected men scheduled for prostate biopsy. The G84E mutation was found in three men (0.3%) who had prostate cancer detected on biopsy, although none of the 301 men who had a family history of prostate cancer carried the mutation.[115] Furthermore, many linkage studies have mapped several prostate cancer susceptibility loci (Table 2), although the genetic alterations contributing to hereditary prostate cancer from these loci have not been consistently reproduced. With the evolution of high-throughput sequencing technologies, there will likely be additional moderately to highly penetrant genetic mutations identified to account for subsets of hereditary prostate cancer families.[116]

A case-control study involves evaluating factors of interest for association to a condition. The design involves investigation of cases with a condition of interest, such as a specific disease or gene mutation, compared with a control sample without that condition, but often with other similar characteristics (i.e., age, gender, and ethnicity). Limitations of case-control design with regard to identifying genetic factors include the following:[117,118]

Additionally, identified associations may not always be valid, but they could represent a random association and, therefore, warrant validation studies.[117,118]

Androgen receptor (AR) gene variants have been examined in relation to both prostate cancer risk and disease progression. The AR is expressed during all stages of prostate carcinogenesis.[120] One study demonstrated that men with hereditary prostate cancer who underwent radical prostatectomy had a higher percentage of prostate cancer cells exhibiting expression of the AR and a lower percentage of cancer cells expressing estrogen receptor alpha than did men with sporadic prostate cancer. The authors suggest that a specific pattern of hormone receptor expression may be associated with hereditary predisposition to prostate cancer.[121]

Altered activity of the AR caused by inherited variants of the AR gene may influence risk of prostate cancer. The length of the polymorphic trinucleotide CAG and GGN microsatellite repeats in exon 1 of the AR gene (located on the X chromosome) have been associated with the risk of prostate cancer.[122,123] Some studies have suggested an inverse association between CAG repeat length and prostate cancer risk, and a direct association between GGN repeat length and risk of prostate cancer; however, the evidence is inconsistent.[120,122-132] A meta-analysis of 19 case-control studies demonstrated a statistically significant association between both short CAG length (odds ratio [OR], 1.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11.3) and short GGN length (OR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.11.6) and prostate cancer; however, the absolute difference in number of repeats between cases and controls is less than one, leading the investigators to question whether these small, statistically significant differences are biologically meaningful.[133] Subsequently, the large multiethnic cohort study of 2,036 incident prostate cancer cases and 2,160 ethnically matched controls failed to confirm a statistically significant association (OR, 1.02; P = .11) between CAG repeat size and prostate cancer.[134] A study of 1,461 Swedish men with prostate cancer and 796 control men reported an association between AR alleles, with more than 22 CAG repeats and prostate cancer (OR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.081.69; P = .03).[135]

An analysis of AR gene CAG and CGN repeat length polymorphisms targeted African American men from the Flint Mens Health Study in an effort to identify a genetic modifier that might help explain the increased risk of prostate cancer in black versus white males in the United States.[136] This population-based study of 131 African American prostate cancer patients and 340 screened-negative African American controls showed no evidence of an association between shorter AR repeat length and prostate cancer risk. These results, together with data from three prior, smaller studies,[134,137,138] indicate that short AR repeat variants do not contribute significantly to the risk of prostate cancer in African American men.

Germline mutations in the AR gene (located on the X chromosome) have been rarely reported. The R726L mutation has been identified as a possible contributor to about 2% of both sporadic and familial prostate cancer in Finland.[139] This mutation, which alters the transactivational specificity of the AR protein, was found in 8 of 418 (1.91%) consecutive sporadic prostate cancer cases, 2 of 106 (1.89%) familial cases, and 3 of 900 (0.33%) normal blood donors, yielding a significantly increased prostate cancer OR of 5.8 for both case groups. A subsequent Finnish study of 38 early-onset prostate cancer cases and 36 multiple-case prostate cancer families with no evidence of male-to-male transmission revealed one additional R726L mutation in one of the familial cases and no new germline mutations in the AR gene.[140] These investigators concluded that germline AR mutations explain only a small fraction of familial and early-onset cases in Finland.

A study of genomic DNA from 60 multiple-case African American (n = 30) and white (n = 30) families identified a novel missense germline AR mutation, T559S, in three affected members of a black sibship and none in the white families. No functional data were presented to indicate that this mutation was clearly deleterious. This was reported as a suggestive finding, in need of additional data.[141]

Molecular epidemiology studies have also examined genetic polymorphisms of the steroid 5-alpha-reductase 2 gene, which is also involved in the androgen metabolism cascade. Two isozymes of 5-alpha-reductase exist. The gene that codes for 5-alpha-reductase type II (SRD5A2) is located on chromosome 2. It is expressed in the prostate, where testosterone is converted irreversibly to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by 5-alpha-reductase type II.[142] Evidence suggests that 5-alpha-reductase type II activity is reduced in populations at lower risk of prostate cancer, including Chinese and Japanese men.[143,144]

A polymorphism in the untranslated region of the SRD5A2 gene may also be associated with prostate cancer risk.[145] Ten alleles fall into three families that differ in the number of TA dinucleotide repeats.[142,146] Although no clinical significance for these polymorphisms has yet been determined, some TA repeat alleles may promote an elevation of enzyme activity, which may in turn increase the level of DHT in the prostate.[120,142] A subsequent meta-analysis failed to detect a statistically significant association between prostate cancer risk and the TA repeat polymorphism, although a relationship could not be definitively excluded.[147] This meta-analysis also examined the potential roles of two coding variants: A49T and V89L. An association with V89L was excluded, and the role for A49T was found to have at most a modest effect on prostate cancer susceptibility. Bias or chance could account for the latter observation. A study of 1,461 Swedish men with prostate cancer and 796 control men reported an association between two variants in SRD5A2 and prostate cancer risk (OR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.012.08; OR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.032.15).[135] Another meta-analysis of 25 case-control studies, including 8,615 cases and 9,089 controls, found no overall association between the V89L polymorphism and prostate cancer risk. In a subgroup analysis, men younger than 65 years (323 cases and 677 controls) who carried the LL genotype had a modest association with prostate cancer (LL vs. VV, OR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.092.66 and LL vs. VV+VL, OR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.142.68).[148] A subsequent systematic review and meta-analysis including 27 nonfamilial case-control studies found no statistically significant association between either the V89L or A49T polymorphisms and prostate cancer risk.[149]

Polymorphisms in several genes involved in the biosynthesis, activation, metabolism, and degradation of androgens (CYP17, CYP3A4, CYP19A1, and SRD5A2) and the stimulation of mitogenic and antiapoptotic activities (IGF-1 and IGFBP-3) of normal prostate cells were examined for association with prostate cancer in 131 African American cases and 342 controls. While allele frequencies did not differ between cases and controls regarding three SNPs in the CYP17 gene (rs6163, rs6162, and rs743572), heterozygous genotypes of these SNPs were found to be associated with a reduced risk (OR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.350.88; OR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.360.90; OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.350.88, respectively). Evidence suggestive of an association between SNP rs5742657 in intron 2 of IGF-1 was also found (OR, 1.57; 95% CI, 0.942.63).[150] Additional studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Other investigators have explored the potential contribution of the variation in genes involved in the estrogen pathway. A Swedish population study of 1,415 prostate cancer cases and 801 age-matched controls examined the association of SNPs in the estrogen receptor-beta (ER-beta) gene and prostate cancer. One SNP in the promoter region of ER-beta, rs2987983, was associated with an overall prostate cancer risk of 1.23 and 1.35 for localized disease.[151] This study awaits replication.

Germline mutations in the tumor suppressor gene E-cadherin (also called CDH1) cause a hereditary form of gastric carcinoma. A SNP designated -160A, located in the promoter region of E-cadherin, has been found to alter the transcriptional activity of this gene.[152] Because somatic mutations in E-cadherin have been implicated in the development of invasive malignancies in a number of different cancers,[153] investigators have searched for evidence that this functionally significant promoter might be a modifier of cancer risk. A meta-analysis of 47 case-control studies in 16 cancer types included ten prostate cancer cohorts (3,570 cases and 3,304 controls). The OR of developing prostate cancer among risk allele carriers was 1.33 (95% CI, 1.111.60). However, the authors of the study noted that there are sources of bias in the dataset, stemming mostly from the small sample sizes of individual cohorts.[154] Additional studies are required to determine whether this finding is reproducible and biologically and clinically important.

There is a great deal of interest in the possibility that chronic inflammation may represent an important risk factor in prostate carcinogenesis.[155] The family of toll-like receptors has been recognized as a critical component of the intrinsic immune system,[156] one which recognizes ligands from exogenous microbes and a variety of endogenous substrates. This family of genes has been studied most extensively in the context of autoimmune disease, but there also have been a series of studies that have analyzed genetic variants in various members of this pathway as potential prostate cancer risk modifiers.[157-161] The results have been inconsistent, ranging from decreased risk, to null association, to increased risk.

One study was based upon 1,414 incident prostate cancer cases and 1,414 age-matched controls from the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort.[162] These investigators genotyped 28 SNPs in a region on chromosome 4p14 that includes TLR-10, TLR-1, and TLR-6, three members of the toll-like receptor gene cluster. Two TLR-10 SNPs and four TLR-1 SNPs were associated with significant reductions in prostate cancer risk, ranging from 29% to 38% for the homozygous variant genotype. A more detailed analysis demonstrated these six SNPs were not independent in their effect, but rather represented a single strong association with reduced risk (OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.330.90). There were no significant differences in this association when covariates such as Gleason score, history of benign prostatic hypertrophy, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and body mass index were taken into account. This is the largest study undertaken to date and included the most comprehensive panel of SNPs evaluated in the 4p14 region. While these observations provide a basis for further investigation of the toll-like receptor genes in prostate cancer etiology, inconsistencies with the prior studies and lack of information regarding what the biological basis of these associations might be warrant caution in interpreting the findings.

SNPs in genes involved in the steroid hormone pathway have previously been studied in sporadic and familial prostate cancer using a sample of individuals with primarily Caucasian ancestry.[163] Another study evaluated 116 tagging SNPs located in 12 genes in the steroid hormone pathway for risk of prostate cancer in 886 cases and 1,566 controls encompassing non-Hispanic white men, Hispanic white men, and African American men.[164] The genes included CYP17, HSD17B3, ESR1, SRD5A2, HSD3B1, HSD3B2, CYP19, CYP1A1, CYP1B1, CYP3A4, CYP27B1, and CYP24A1. Several SNPs in CYP19 were associated with prostate cancer risk in all three populations. Analysis of SNP-SNP interactions involving SNPs in multiple genes revealed a seven-SNP interaction involving HSD17B3, CYP19, and CYP24A1 in Hispanic whites (P = .001). In non-Hispanic whites, an interaction of four SNPs in HSD3B2, HSD17B3, and CYP19 was found (P

A meta-analysis of the relationship between eight polymorphisms in six genes (MTHFR, MTR, MTHFD1, SLC19A1, SHMT1, and FOLH1) from the folate pathway was conducted by pooling data from eight case-control studies, four GWAS, and a nested case-control study named Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment in the United Kingdom. Numbers of tested subjects varied among these polymorphisms, with up to 10,743 cases and 35,821 controls analyzed. The report concluded that known common folate-pathway SNPs do not have significant effects on prostate cancer susceptibility in white men.[165]

Four SNPs in the p53 pathway (three in genes regulating p53 function including MDM2, MDM4, and HAUSP and one in p53) were evaluated for association with aggressive prostate cancer in a hospital-based prostate cancer cohort of men with Caucasian ethnicity (N = 4,073).[166] However, a subsequent meta-analysis of case-control studies that focused on MDM2 (T309G) and prostate cancer risk revealed no association.[167] Therefore, the biologic basis of the various associations identified requires further study.

Table 3 summarizes additional case-control studies that have assessed genes that are potentially associated with prostate cancer susceptibility.

Case-control studies assessed site-specific prostate cancer susceptibility in the following genes: EMSY, KLF6, AMACR, NBS1, CHEK2, AR, SRD5A2, ER-beta, E-cadherin, and the toll-like receptor genes. These studies have been complicated by the later-onset nature of the disease and the high background rate of prostate cancer in the general population. In addition, there is likely to be real, extensive locus heterogeneity for hereditary prostate cancer, as suggested by both segregation and linkage studies. In this respect, hereditary prostate cancer resembles a number of the other major adult-onset hereditary cancer syndromes, in which more than one gene can produce the same or very similar clinical phenotype (e.g., hereditary breast/ovarian cancer, Lynch syndrome, hereditary melanoma, and hereditary renal cancer). The clinical validity and utility of genetic testing for any of these genes based solely on evidence for hereditary prostate cancer susceptibility has not been established.

Admixture mapping is a method used to identify genetic variants associated with traits and/or diseases in individuals with mixed ancestry.[178] This approach is most effective when applied to individuals whose admixture was recent and consists of two populations who had previously been separated for thousands of years. The genomes of such individuals are a mosaic, comprised of large blocks from each ancestral locale. The technique takes advantage of a difference in disease incidence in one ancestral group compared with another. Genetic risk loci are presumed to reside in regions enriched for the ancestral group with higher incidence. Successful mapping depends on the availability of population-specific genetic markers associated with ancestry, and on the number of generations since admixture.[179,180]

Admixture mapping is a particularly attractive method for identifying genetic loci associated with increased prostate cancer risk among African Americans. African American men are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer than are men of European ancestry, and the genomes of African American men are mosaics of regions from Africa and regions from Europe. It is therefore hypothesized that inherited variants accounting for the difference in incidence between the two groups must reside in regions enriched for African ancestry. In prostate cancer admixture studies, genetic markers for ancestry were genotyped genome-wide in African American cases and controls in a search for areas enriched for African ancestry in the men with prostate cancer. Admixture studies have identified the following chromosomal regions associated with prostate cancer:

An advantage of this approach is that recent admixtures result in long stretches of linkage disequilibrium (up to hundreds of thousands of base pairs) of one particular ancestry.[182] As a result, fewer markers are needed to search for genetic variants associated with specific diseases, such as prostate cancer, than the number of markers needed for successful GWAS.[179] (Refer to the GWAS section of this summary for more information.)

Genome-wide searches have successfully identified susceptibility alleles for many complex diseases,[183] including prostate cancer. This approach can be contrasted with linkage analysis, which searches for genetic risk variants co-segregating within families that have a high prevalence of disease. Linkage analyses are designed to uncover rare, highly penetrant variants that segregate in predictable heritance patterns (e.g., autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, X-linked, and mitochondrial). GWAS, on the other hand, are best suited to identify multiple, common, low-penetrance genetic polymorphisms. GWAS are conducted under the assumption that the genetic underpinnings of complex phenotypes, such as prostate cancer, are governed by many alleles, each conferring modest risk. Most genetic polymorphisms genotyped in GWAS are common, with minor allele frequencies greater than 1% to 5% within a given ancestral population (e.g., men of European ancestry). GWAS survey all common inherited variants across the genome, searching for alleles that are associated with incidence of a given disease or phenotype.[184,185] The strong correlation between many alleles located close to one another on a given chromosome (called linkage disequilibrium) allows one to scan the genome without having to test all tens of millions of known SNPs. GWAS can test approximately 1 million to 5 million SNPs and ascertain almost all common inherited variants in the genome.

In a GWAS, allele frequency is compared for each SNP between cases and controls. Promising signalsin which allele frequencies deviate significantly in case compared to control populationsare validated in replication cohorts. In order to have adequate statistical power to identify variants associated with a phenotype, large numbers of cases and controls, typically thousands of each, are studied. Because 1 million SNPs are typically evaluated in a GWAS, false-positive findings are expected to occur frequently when standard statistical thresholds are used. Therefore, stringent statistical rules are used to declare a positive finding, usually using a threshold of P

To date, approximately 100 variants associated with prostate cancer have been identified by well-powered GWAS and validated in independent cohorts (see Table 4).[189] These studies have revealed convincing associations between specific inherited variants and prostate cancer risk. However, the findings should be qualified with a few important considerations:

The implications of these points are discussed in greater detail below. Additional detail can be found elsewhere.[192]

In 2006, two genome-wide studies seeking associations with prostate cancer risk converged on the same chromosomal locus, 8q24. Using a technique called admixture mapping, a 3.8 megabase (Mb) region emerged as significantly involved with risk in African American men.[69] In another study, linkage analysis of 323 Icelandic prostate cancer cases also revealed an 8q24 risk locus.[68] Detailed genotyping of this region and an association study for prostate cancer risk in three case-control populations in Sweden, Iceland, and the United States revealed specific 8q24 risk markers: a SNP, rs1447295, and a microsatellite polymorphism, allele-8 at marker DG8S737.[68] The population-attributable risk of prostate cancer from these alleles was 8%. The results were replicated in an African American case-control population, and the population attributable risk was 16%.[68] These results were confirmed in several large, independent cohorts.[70-73,80-83,193] Subsequent GWAS independently converged on another risk variant at 8q24, rs6983267.[73-75] Fine mapping, genotyping a large number of variants densely packed within a region of interest in many cases and controls, was performed across 8q24 targeting the variants most significantly associated with prostate cancer risk. Across multiple ethnic populations, three distinct 8q24 risk loci were described: region 1 (containing rs1447295) at 128.54128.62 Mb, region 2 at 128.14128.28 Mb, and region 3 (containing rs6983267) at 128.47128.54 Mb.[75] Variants within each of these three regions independently confer disease risk with ORs ranging from 1.11 to 1.66. In 2009, two separate GWAS uncovered two additional risk regions at 8q24. In all, approximately nine genetic polymorphisms, all independently associated with disease, reside within five distinct 8q24 risk regions.[86,87]

Since the discovery of prostate cancer risk loci at 8q24, other chromosomal risk loci similarly have been identified by multistage GWAS comprised of thousands of cases and controls and validated in independent cohorts. The most convincing associations reported to date for men of European ancestry are included in Table 4. The association between risk and allele status for each variant listed in Table 4 reached genome-wide statistical significance in more than one independent cohort.

Most prostate cancer GWAS data generated to date have been derived from populations of European descent. This shortcoming is profound, considering that linkage disequilibrium structure, SNP frequencies, and incidence of disease differ across ancestral groups. To provide meaningful genetic data to all patients, well-designed, adequately powered GWAS must be aimed at specific ethnic groups.[206] Most work in this regard has focused on African American, Chinese, and Japanese men. The most convincing associations reported to date for men of non-European ancestry are included in Table 5. The association between risk and allele status for each variant listed in Table 5 reached genome-wide statistical significance in more than one independent cohort.

The African American population is of particular interest because American men with African ancestry are at higher risk of prostate cancer than any other group. In addition, inherited variation at the 8q24 risk locus appears to contribute to differences in African American and European American incidence of disease.[69] A handful of studies have sought to determine whether GWAS findings in men of European ancestry are applicable to men of African ancestry. One study interrogated 28 known prostate cancer risk loci via fine mapping in 3,425 African American cases and 3,290 African American controls.[208] On average, risk allele frequencies were 0.05 greater in African Americans than in European Americans. Of the 37 known risk SNPs analyzed, 18 replicated in the African American population were significantly associated with prostate cancer at P .05 (the study was underpowered to properly assess nine of the remaining 19 SNPs). For seven risk regions (2p24, 2p15, 3q21, 6q22, 8q21, 11q13, and 19q13), fine mapping identified SNPs in the African American population more strongly associated with risk than the index SNPs reported in the original European-based GWAS. Fine mapping of the 8q24 region revealed four SNPs associated with disease that are substantially more common in African Americans. The SNP most strongly correlated with disease among African Americans (rs6987409) is not strongly correlated with a European risk allele and may account for a portion of increased risk in the African American population. In all, the risk SNPs identified in this study are estimated to represent 11% of total inherited risk.

Some of the risk variants identified in Table 5 have also been found to confer risk in men of European ancestry. These include rs16901979, rs6983267, and rs1447295 at 8q24 in African Americans and rs13254738 in Japanese populations. Additionally, the Japanese rs4430796 at 17q12 and rs2660753 at 3p12 have also been observed in men of European ancestry. However, the vast majority of the variants identified in these studies reveal novel variants that are unique to that specific ethnic population. These results confirm the importance of evaluating SNP associations in different ethnic populations. Considerable effort is still needed to fully annotate genetic risk in these and other populations.

Because the variants discovered by GWAS are markers of risk, there has been great interest in using genotype as a screening tool to predict the development of prostate cancer. In an attempt to determine the potential clinical value of risk SNP genotype, cases of prostate cancer (n = 2,893) were identified from four cancer registries in Sweden. Controls (n = 1,781) were randomly selected from the Swedish Population Registry and were matched to cases by age and geographic region.[78] Known risk SNPs from 8q24, 17q12, and 17q24.3 were analyzed (rs4430796 at 17q12, rs1859962 at 17q24.3, rs16901979 at 8q24 [region 2], rs6983267 at 8q24 [region 3], and rs1447295 at 8q24 [region 1]). ORs for prostate cancer for men carrying any combination of one, two, three, or four or more genotypes associated with prostate cancer were estimated by comparing them with men carrying none of the associated genotypes using logistic regression analysis. Men who carried one to five risk alleles had an increasing likelihood of having prostate cancer compared with men carrying none of the alleles (P = 6.75 10-27). After controlling for age, geographic location, and family history of prostate cancer, men carrying four or more of these alleles had a significant elevation in risk of prostate cancer (OR, 4.47; 95% CI, 2.936.80; P = 1.20 10-13). When family history was added as a risk factor, men with five or more factors (five SNPs plus family history) had an even stronger risk of prostate cancer (OR, 9.46; 95% CI, 3.6224.72; P = 1.29 10-8). The population-attributable risks (PARs) for these five SNPs were estimated to account for 4% to 21% of prostate cancer cases in Sweden, and the joint PAR for prostate cancer of the five SNPs plus family history was 46%.

A second study assessed prostate cancer risk associated with a family history of prostate cancer in combination with various numbers of 27 risk alleles identified through four prior GWAS. Two case-control populations were studied, the Prostate, Lung, Colon, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO) in the United States (1,172 cases and 1,157 controls) and the Cancer of the Prostate in Sweden (CAPS) study (2,899 cases and 1,722 controls). The highest risk of prostate cancer from the CAPS population was observed in men with a positive family history and greater than 14 risk alleles (OR, 4.92; 95% CI, 3.646.64). Repeating this analysis in the PLCO population revealed similar findings (OR, 3.88; 95% CI, 2.835.33).[214]

However, the proportion of men carrying large numbers of the risk alleles was low. While ORs were impressively high for this subset, they do not reflect the utility of genotyping the overall population. Receiver operating characteristic curves were constructed in these studies to measure the sensitivity and specificity of certain risk profiles. The area under the curve (AUC) was 0.61 when age, geographic region, and family history were used to assess risk. When genotype of the five risk SNPs at chromosomes 8 and 17 were introduced, a very modest AUC improvement to 0.63 was detected.[78] The addition of more recently discovered SNPs to the model has not appreciably improved these results.[215] While genotype may inform risk status for the small minority of men carrying multiple risk alleles, testing of the known panel of prostate cancer SNPs is currently of questionable clinical utility.[216]

Another study incorporated 10,501 prostate cancer cases and 10,831 controls from multiple cohorts (including PLCO) and genotyped each individual for 25 prostate cancer risk SNPs. Age and family history data were available for all subjects. Genotype data helped discriminate those who developed prostate cancer from those who did not. However, similar to the series above, discriminative ability was modest and only compelling at the extremes of risk allele distribution in a relatively small subset population; younger subjects (men aged 50 to 59 years) with a family history of disease who were in 90th percentile for risk allele status had an absolute 10-year risk of 6.7% compared with an absolute 10-year risk of 1.6% in men in the 10th percentile for risk allele status.[217]

In another study, 49 risk SNPs were genotyped in 2,696 Swedish men, and a polygenic risk score was calculated. On the basis of their genetic risk scores, 172 men aged 50 to 69 years with PSA levels of 1 to 3 ng/mL underwent biopsy. Prostate cancer was diagnosed in 27% of these individuals, and 6% had Gleason 7 or higher disease.[218] The utility of this strategy for identifying who should undergo prostate biopsy is yet to be determined.

In July 2012, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) published a report that sought to address the clinical utility of germline genotyping of prostate cancer risk markers discovered by GWAS.[216] Largely on the basis of the evidence from the studies described above, AHRQ concluded that established prostate cancer risk SNPs have poor discriminative ability to identify individuals at risk of developing the disease. Similarly, the authors of another study estimated that the contribution of GWAS polymorphisms in determining the risk of developing prostate cancer will be modest, even as meta-analyses or larger studies uncover additional common risk alleles (alleles carried by >1%5% of individuals within the population).[219]

GWAS findings to date account for only a fraction of heritable risk of disease. Research is ongoing to uncover the remaining portion of genetic risk. This includes the discovery of rarer alleles with higher ORs for risk. For example, a consortium led by deCODE genetics in Iceland performed whole-genome sequencing of 2,500 Icelanders and identified approximately 32.5 million variants, including millions of rare variants (carried by

In addition, other genetic polymorphisms, such as copy number variants, are becoming increasingly amenable to testing. As the full picture of inherited prostate cancer risk becomes more complete, it is hoped that germline information will become clinically useful.

Notably, almost all reported prostate cancer risk alleles reside in nonprotein coding regions of the genome, and the underlying biological mechanism of disease susceptibility remains unclear. Hypotheses explaining the mechanism of inherited risk include the following:

The 8q24 risk locus, which contains multiple prostate cancer risk alleles and risk alleles for other cancers, has been the focus of intense study. c-MYC, a known oncogene, is the closest known gene to the 8q24 risk regions, although it is located hundreds of kb away. Given this significant distance, SNPs within c-MYC are not in linkage disequilibrium with the 8q24 prostate cancer risk variants. One study examined whether 8q24 prostate cancer risk SNPs are in fact located in areas of previously unannotated transcription, and no transcriptional activity was uncovered at the risk loci.[222] Attention turned to the idea of distal gene regulation. Interrogation of the epigenetic landscape at the 8q24 risk loci revealed that the risk variants are located in areas that bear the marks of genetic enhancers, elements that influence gene activity from a distance.[223-225] To identify a prostate cancer risk gene, germline DNA from 280 men undergoing prostatectomy for prostate cancer was genotyped for all known 8q24 risk SNPs. Genotypes were tested for association with the normal prostate and prostate tumor RNA expression levels of genes located within one Mb of the risk SNPs. No association was detected between expression of any of the genes, including c-MYC, and risk allele status in either normal epithelium or tumor tissue. Another study, using normal prostate tissue from 59 patients, detected an association between an 8q24 risk allele and the gene PVT1, downstream from c-MYC.[226] Nonetheless, c-MYC, with its substantial involvement in many cancers, remains a prime candidate. A series of experiments in prostate cancer cell lines demonstrated that chromatin is configured in such a way that the 8q24 risk variants lie in close proximity to c-MYC, even though they are quite distant in linear space. These data implicate c-MYC despite the absence of expression data.[224,226] Further work at 8q24 and similar analyses at other prostate cancer risk loci are ongoing.

Additional insights are emerging regarding the potential interaction between SNPs identified from GWAS and prostate cancer susceptibility gene regulation. One study found that a SNP at 6q22 lies within a binding region for HOXB13. Through multiple functional approaches, the T allele of this SNP (rs339331) was found to enhance binding of HOXB13, leading to allele-specific upregulation of RFX6, which correlates with prostate cancer progression and severity.[227] Thus, this study supports the hypothesis that risk alleles identified from GWAS may play a role in regulating or modifying gene expression and therefore impact prostate cancer risk.

A 2012 study used a novel approach to identify polymorphisms associated with risk.[228] On the basis of the well-established principle that the AR plays a prominent role in prostate tumorigenesis, the investigators targeted SNPs that reside at sites where the AR binds to DNA. They leveraged data from previous studies that mapped thousands of AR binding sites genome-wide in prostate cancer cell lines to select SNPs to genotype in the Johns Hopkins Hospital cohort of 1,964 cases and 3,172 controls and the Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility cohort of 1,172 cases and 1,157 controls. This modified GWAS revealed a SNP (rs4919743) located at the KRT8 locus at 12q13.13a locus previously implicated in cancer developmentassociated with prostate cancer risk, with an OR of 1.22 (95% CI, 1.131.32). The study is notable for its use of a reasonable hypothesis and prior data to guide a genome-wide search for risk variants.

Although the statistical evidence for an association between genetic variation at these loci and prostate cancer risk is overwhelming, the clinical relevance of the variants and the mechanism(s) by which they lead to increased risk are unclear and will require further characterization. Additionally, these loci are associated with very modest risk estimates and explain only a fraction of overall inherited risk. Further work will include genome-wide analysis of rarer alleles catalogued via sequencing efforts, such as the 1000 Genomes Project.[229] Disease-associated alleles with frequencies of less than 1% in the population may prove to be more highly penetrant and clinically useful. In addition, further work is needed to describe the landscape of genetic risk in non-European populations. Finally, until the individual and collective influences of genetic risk alleles are evaluated prospectively, their clinical utility will remain difficult to fully assess.

Prostate cancer is clinically heterogeneous. Many cases are indolent and are successfully managed with observation alone. Other cases are quite aggressive and prove deadly. Several variables are used to determine prostate cancer aggressiveness at the time of diagnosis, such as Gleason score and PSA, but these are imperfect. Additional markers are needed, as sound treatment decisions depend on accurate prognostic information. Germline genetic variants are attractive markers since they are present, easily detectable, and static throughout life. Several studies have interrogated inherited variants that may distinguish indolent and aggressive prostate cancer. Several of these studies identified polymorphisms associated with aggressiveness, after adjusting for commonly used clinical variables, and are reviewed in the Table 6.

Findings to date regarding inherited risk of aggressive disease are considered preliminary. Further work is needed to validate findings and assess prospectively.

Like studies of the genetics of prostate cancer risk, initial studies of inherited risk of aggressive prostate cancer focused on polymorphisms in candidate genes. Next, as GWAS revealed prostate cancer risk SNPs, several research teams sought to determine whether certain risk SNPs were also associated with aggressiveness (see table below). There has been great interest in launching more unbiased, genome-wide searches for inherited variants associated with indolent versus aggressive prostate cancer. While GWAS designed explicitly for disease aggressiveness have been initiated, most genome-wide analyses to date have relied on datasets previously generated to evaluate prostate cancer risk. The cases from these case-control cohorts were divided into aggressive and nonaggressive subgroups then compared with each other and/or with the control (nonprostate cancer) subjects. Several associations between germline markers and prostate cancer aggressiveness have been reported. However, there remains no accepted set of germline markers that clearly provides prognostic information beyond that provided by more traditional variables at the time of diagnosis.

In independent retrospective series (see Table 6) the prostate cancer risk allele at rs2735839 (G) was associated with less aggressive disease. This risk allele has also been associated with higher PSA levels.[198,238] A hypothesis explaining the association between the nonrisk allele (A) and more aggressive disease is that those carrying the A allele generally have lower PSA levels and are sent for prostate biopsy less often. They subsequently may be diagnosed later in the natural history of the disease, resulting in poorer outcomes.

To definitively identify the inherited variants associated with prostate cancer aggressiveness, GWAS focusing on prostate cancer subjects with poor disease-related outcomes are needed. Notably, in a genome-wide analysis in which two of the largest international prostate cancer genotyped cohorts were combined for analysis (24,023 prostate cancer cases, including 3,513 disease-specific deaths), no SNP was associated with prostate cancerspecific survival.[239] The authors concluded that any SNP associated with prostate cancer outcome must be fairly rare in the general population (minor allele frequency below 1%). As more data regarding rarer variants are generated and validated, the value of inherited variants for therapeutic decision making may be determined.

While genetic testing for prostate cancer is not yet standard clinical practice, research from selected cohorts has reported that prostate cancer risk is elevated in men with mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and on a smaller scale, in mismatch repair (MMR) genes. Since clinical genetic testing is available for these genes, information about risk of prostate cancer based on alterations in these genes is included in this section. In addition, mutations in HOXB13 were reported to account for a proportion of hereditary prostate cancer. Although clinical testing is not yet available for HOXB13 alterations, it is expected that this gene will have clinical relevance in the future and therefore it is also included in this section. The genetic alterations described in this section require further study and are not to be used in routine clinical practice at this time.

Studies of male BRCA1 [1] and BRCA2 mutation carriers demonstrate that these individuals have a higher risk of prostate cancer and other cancers.[2] Prostate cancer in particular has been observed at higher rates in male BRCA2 mutations carriers than in the general population.[3]

The risk of prostate cancer in BRCA mutation carriers has been studied in various settings.

In an effort to clarify the relationship between BRCA mutations and prostate cancer risk, findings from several case series are summarized in Table 7.

Estimates derived from the Breast Cancer Linkage Consortium may be overestimated because these data are generated from a highly select population of families ascertained for significant evidence of risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer and suitability for linkage analysis. However, a review of the relationship between germline mutations in BRCA2 and prostate cancer risk supports the view that this gene confers a significant increase in risk among male members of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer families but that it likely plays only a small role, if any, in site-specific, multiple-case prostate cancer families.[6] In addition, the clinical validity and utility of BRCA testing solely on the basis of evidence for hereditary prostate cancer susceptibility has not been established.

Several studies in Israel and in North America have analyzed the frequency of BRCA founder mutations among Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) men with prostate cancer.[7-9] Two specific BRCA1 mutations (185delAG and 5382insC) and one BRCA2 mutation (6174delT) are common in individuals of AJ ancestry. Carrier frequencies for these mutations in the general Jewish population are 0.9% (95% CI, 0.71.1) for the 185delAG mutation, 0.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.20.4) for the 5382insC mutation, and 1.3% (95% CI, 1.01.5) for the BRCA2 6174delT mutation.[10-13] (Refer to the High-Penetrance Breast and/or Gynecologic Cancer Susceptibility Genes section in the PDQ summary on Genetics of Breast and Gynecologic Cancers for more information about BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.) In these studies, the relative risks (RRs) were commonly greater than 1, but only a few have been statistically significant. Many of these studies were not sufficiently powered to rule out a lower, but clinically significant, risk of prostate cancer in carriers of Ashkenazi BRCA founder mutations.

In the Washington Ashkenazi Study (WAS), a kin-cohort analytic approach was used to estimate the cumulative risk of prostate cancer among more than 5,000 American AJ male volunteers from the Washington, District of Columbia, area who carried one of the BRCA Ashkenazi founder mutations. The cumulative risk to age 70 years was estimated to be 16% (95% CI, 430) among carriers and 3.8% among noncarriers (95% CI, 3.34.4).[13] This fourfold increase in prostate cancer risk was equal (in absolute terms) to the cumulative risk of ovarian cancer among female mutation carriers at the same age (16% by age 70 years; 95% CI, 628). The risk of prostate cancer in male mutation carriers in the WAS cohort was elevated by age 50 years, was statistically significantly elevated by age 67 years, and increased thereafter with age, suggesting both an overall excess in prostate cancer risk and an earlier age at diagnosis among carriers of Ashkenazi founder mutations. Prostate cancer risk differed depending on the gene, with BRCA1 mutations associated with increasing risk after age 55 to 60 years, reaching 25% by age 70 years and 41% by age 80 years. In contrast, prostate cancer risk associated with the BRCA2 mutation began to rise at later ages, reaching 5% by age 70 years and 36% by age 80 years (numeric values were provided by the author [written communication, April 2005]).

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Guidelines for Preventing Opportunistic Infections Among …

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Clare A. Dykewicz, M.D., M.P.H. Harold W. Jaffe, M.D., Director Division of AIDS, STD, and TB Laboratory Research National Center for Infectious Diseases

Jonathan E. Kaplan, M.D. Division of AIDS, STD, and TB Laboratory Research National Center for Infectious Diseases Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention — Surveillance and Epidemiology National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention

Clare A. Dykewicz, M.D., M.P.H., Chair Harold W. Jaffe, M.D. Thomas J. Spira, M.D. Division of AIDS, STD, and TB Laboratory Research

William R. Jarvis, M.D. Hospital Infections Program National Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC

Jonathan E. Kaplan, M.D. Division of AIDS, STD, and TB Laboratory Research National Center for Infectious Diseases Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention — Surveillance and Epidemiology National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC

Brian R. Edlin, M.D. Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention—Surveillance and Epidemiology National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC

Robert T. Chen, M.D., M.A. Beth Hibbs, R.N., M.P.H. Epidemiology and Surveillance Division National Immunization Program, CDC

Raleigh A. Bowden, M.D. Keith Sullivan, M.D. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Seattle, Washington

David Emanuel, M.B.Ch.B. Indiana University Indianapolis, Indiana

David L. Longworth, M.D. Cleveland Clinic Foundation Cleveland, Ohio

Philip A. Rowlings, M.B.B.S., M.S. International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry/Autologous Blood and Marrow Transplant Registry Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Robert H. Rubin, M.D. Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, Massachusetts and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts

Kent A. Sepkowitz, M.D. Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York, New York

John R. Wingard, M.D. University of Florida Gainesville, Florida

John F. Modlin, M.D. Dartmouth Medical School Hanover, New Hampshire

Donna M. Ambrosino, M.D. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Boston, Massachusetts

Norman W. Baylor, Ph.D. Food and Drug Administration Rockville, Maryland

Albert D. Donnenberg, Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pierce Gardner, M.D. State University of New York at Stony Brook Stony Brook, New York

Roger H. Giller, M.D. University of Colorado Denver, Colorado

Neal A. Halsey, M.D. Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, Maryland

Chinh T. Le, M.D. Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center Santa Rosa, California

Deborah C. Molrine, M.D. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Boston, Massachusetts

Keith M. Sullivan, M.D. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Seattle, Washington

CDC, the Infectious Disease Society of America, and the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation have cosponsored these guidelines for preventing opportunistic infections (OIs) among hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients. The guidelines were drafted with the assistance of a working group of experts in infectious diseases, transplantation, and public health. For the purposes of this report, HSCT is defined as any transplantation of blood- or marrow-derived hematopoietic stem cells, regardless of transplant type (i.e., allogeneic or autologous) or cell source (i.e., bone marrow, peripheral blood, or placental or umbilical cord blood). Such OIs as bacterial, viral, fungal, protozoal, and helminth infections occur with increased frequency or severity among HSCT recipients. These evidence-based guidelines contain information regarding preventing OIs, hospital infection control, strategies for safe living after transplantation, vaccinations, and hematopoietic stem cell safety. The disease-specific sections address preventing exposure and disease for pediatric and adult and autologous and allogeneic HSCT recipients. The goal of these guidelines is twofold: to summarize current data and provide evidence-based recommendations regarding preventing OIs among HSCT patients. The guidelines were developed for use by HSCT recipients, their household and close contacts, transplant and infectious diseases physicians, HSCT center personnel, and public health professionals. For all recommendations, prevention strategies are rated by the strength of the recommendation and the quality of the evidence supporting the recommendation. Adhering to these guidelines should reduce the number and severity of OIs among HSCT recipients.

In 1992, the Institute of Medicine (1) recommended that CDC lead a global effort to detect and control emerging infectious agents. In response, CDC published a plan (2) that outlined national disease prevention priorities, including the development of guidelines for preventing opportunistic infections (OIs) among immunosuppressed persons. During 1995, CDC published guidelines for preventing OIs among persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and revised those guidelines during 1997 and 1999 (3–5). Because of the success of those guidelines, CDC sought to determine the need for expanding OI prevention activities to other immunosuppressed populations. An informal survey of hematology, oncology, and infectious disease specialists at transplant centers and a working group formed by CDC determined that guidelines were needed to help prevent OIs among hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT)* recipients.

The working group defined OIs as infections that occur with increased frequency or severity among HSCT recipients, and they drafted evidence-based recommendations for preventing exposure to and disease caused by bacterial, fungal, viral, protozoal, or helminthic pathogens. During March 1997, the working group presented the first draft of these guidelines at a meeting of representatives from public and private health organizations. After review by that group and other experts, these guidelines were revised and made available during September 1999 for a 45-day public comment period after notification in the Federal Register. Public comments were added when feasible, and the report was approved by CDC, the Infectious Disease Society of America, and the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. The pediatric content of these guidelines has been endorsed also by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The hematopoietic stem cell safety section was endorsed by the International Society of Hematotherapy and Graft Engineering.

The first recommendations presented in this report are followed by recommendations for hospital infection control, strategies for safe living, vaccinations, and hematopoietic stem cell safety. Unless otherwise noted, these recommendations address allogeneic and autologous and pediatric and adult HSCT recipients. Additionally, these recommendations are intended for use by the recipients, their household and other close contacts, transplant and infectious diseases specialists, HSCT center personnel, and public health professionals.

For all recommendations, prevention strategies are rated by the strength of the recommendation (Table 1) and the quality of the evidence (Table 2) supporting the recommendation. The principles of this rating system were developed by the Infectious Disease Society of America and the U.S. Public Health Service for use in the guidelines for preventing OIs among HIV-infected persons (3–6). This rating system allows assessments of recommendations to which adherence is critical.

HSCT is the infusion of hematopoietic stem cells from a donor into a patient who has received chemotherapy, which is usually marrow-ablative. Increasingly, HSCT has been used to treat neoplastic diseases, hematologic disorders, immunodeficiency syndromes, congenital enzyme deficiencies, and autoimmune disorders (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosus or multiple sclerosis) (7–10). Moreover, HSCT has become standard treatment for selected conditions (7,11,12). Data from the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry and the Autologous Blood and Marrow Transplant Registry indicate that approximately 20,000 HSCTs were performed in North America during 1998 (Statistical Center of the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry and Autologous Blood and Marrow Transplant Registry, unpublished data, 1998).

HSCTs are classified as either allogeneic or autologous on the basis of the source of the transplanted hematopoietic progenitor cells. Cells used in allogeneic HSCTs are harvested from a donor other than the transplant recipient. Such transplants are the most effective treatment for persons with severe aplastic anemia (13) and offer the only curative therapy for persons with chronic myelogenous leukemia (12). Allogeneic donors might be a blood relative or an unrelated donor. Allogeneic transplants are usually most successful when the donor is a human lymphocyte antigen (HLA)-identical twin or matched sibling. However, for allogeneic candidates who lack such a donor, registry organizations (e.g., the National Marrow Donor Program) maintain computerized databases that store information regarding HLA type from millions of volunteer donors (14–16). Another source of stem cells for allogeneic candidates without an HLA-matched sibling is a mismatched family member (17,18). However, persons who receive allogeneic grafts from donors who are not HLA-matched siblings are at a substantially greater risk for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) (19). These persons are also at increased risk for suboptimal graft function and delayed immune system recovery (19). To reduce GVHD among allogeneic HSCTs, techniques have been developed to remove T-lymphocytes, the principal effectors of GVHD, from the donor graft. Although the recipients of T-lymphocyte–depleted marrow grafts generally have lower rates of GVHD, they also have greater rates of graft rejection, cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, invasive fungal infection, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated posttransplant lymphoproliferative disease (20).

The patient’s own cells are used in an autologous HSCT. Similar to autologous transplants are syngeneic transplants, among whom the HLA-identical twin serves as the donor. Autologous HSCTs are preferred for patients who require high-level or marrow-ablative chemotherapy to eradicate an underlying malignancy but have healthy, undiseased bone marrows. Autologous HSCTs are also preferred when the immunologic antitumor effect of an allograft is not beneficial. Autologous HSCTs are used most frequently to treat breast cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Hodgkin’s disease (21). Neither autologous nor syngeneic HSCTs confer a risk for chronic GVHD.

Recently, medical centers have begun to harvest hematopoietic stem cells from placental or umbilical cord blood (UCB) immediately after birth. These harvested cells are used primarily for allogeneic transplants among children. Early results demonstrate that greater degrees of histoincompatibility between donor and recipient might be tolerated without graft rejection or GVHD when UCB hematopoietic cells are used (22–24). However, immune system function after UCB transplants has not been well-studied.

HSCT is also evolving rapidly in other areas. For example, hematopoietic stem cells harvested from the patient’s peripheral blood after treatment with hematopoietic colony-stimulating factors (e.g., granulocyte colony-stimulating factor [G-CSF or filgastrim] or granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor [GM-CSF or sargramostim]) are being used increasingly among autologous recipients (25) and are under investigation for use among allogeneic HSCT. Peripheral blood has largely replaced bone marrow as a source of stem cells for autologous recipients. A benefit of harvesting such cells from the donor’s peripheral blood instead of bone marrow is that it eliminates the need for general anesthesia associated with bone marrow aspiration.

GVHD is a condition in which the donated cells recognize the recipient’s cells as nonself and attack them. Although the use of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in the routine management of allogeneic patients was common in the past as a means of producing immune modulation among patients with GVHD, this practice has declined because of cost factors (26) and because of the development of other strategies for GVHD prophylaxis (27). For example, use of cyclosporine GVHD prophylaxis has become commonplace since its introduction during the early 1980s. Most frequently, cyclosporine or tacrolimus (FK506) is administered in combination with other immunosuppressive agents (e.g., methotrexate or corticosteroids) (27). Although cyclosporine is effective in preventing GVHD, its use entails greater hazards for infectious complications and relapse of the underlying neoplastic disease for which the transplant was performed.

Although survival rates for certain autologous recipients have improved (28,29), infection remains a leading cause of death among allogeneic transplants and is a major cause of morbidity among autologous HSCTs (29). Researchers from the National Marrow Donor Program reported that, of 462 persons receiving unrelated allogeneic HSCTs during December 1987–November 1990, a total of 66% had died by 1991 (15). Among primary and secondary causes of death, the most common cause was infection, which occurred among 37% of 307 patients (15).**

Despite high morbidity and mortality after HSCT, recipients who survive long-term are likely to enjoy good health. A survey of 798 persons who had received an HSCT before 1985 and who had survived for >5 years after HSCT, determined that 93% were in good health and that 89% had returned to work or school full time (30). In another survey of 125 adults who had survived a mean of 10 years after HSCT, 88% responded that the benefits of transplantation outweighed the side effects (31).

During the first year after an HSCT, recipients typically follow a predictable pattern of immune system deficiency and recovery, which begins with the chemotherapy or radiation therapy (i.e., the conditioning regimen) administered just before the HSCT to treat the underlying disease. Unfortunately, this conditioning regimen also destroys normal hematopoiesis for neutrophils, monocytes, and macrophages and damages mucosal progenitor cells, causing a temporary loss of mucosal barrier integrity. The gastrointestinal tract, which normally contains bacteria, commensal fungi, and other bacteria-carrying sources (e.g., skin or mucosa) becomes a reservoir of potential pathogens. Virtually all HSCT recipients rapidly lose all T- and B-lymphocytes after conditioning, losing immune memory accumulated through a lifetime of exposure to infectious agents, environmental antigens, and vaccines. Because transfer of donor immunity to HSCT recipients is variable and influenced by the timing of antigen exposure among donor and recipient, passively acquired donor immunity cannot be relied upon to provide long-term immunity against infectious diseases among HSCT recipients.

During the first month after HSCT, the major host-defense deficits include impaired phagocytosis and damaged mucocutaneous barriers. Additionally, indwelling intravenous catheters are frequently placed and left in situ for weeks to administer parenteral medications, blood products, and nutritional supplements. These catheters serve as another portal of entry for opportunistic pathogens from organisms colonizing the skin (e.g., . coagulase-negative Staphylococci, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida species, and Enterococci) (32,33).

Engraftment for adults and children is defined as the point at which a patient can maintain a sustained absolute neutrophil count (ANC) of >500/mm3 and sustained platelet count of >20,000, lasting >3 consecutive days without transfusions. Among unrelated allogeneic recipients, engraftment occurs at a median of 22 days after HSCT (range: 6–84 days) (15). In the absence of corticosteroid use, engraftment is associated with the restoration of effective phagocytic function, which results in a decreased risk for bacterial and fungal infections. However, all HSCT recipients and particularly allogeneic recipients, experience an immune system dysfunction for months after engraftment. For example, although allogeneic recipients might have normal total lymphocyte counts within >2 months after HSCT, they have abnormal CD4/CD8 T-cell ratios, reflecting their decreased CD4 and increased CD8 T-cell counts (27). They might also have immunoglobulin G (IgG)2, IgG4, and immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiencies for months after HSCT and have difficulty switching from immunoglobulin M (IgM) to IgG production after antigen exposure (32). Immune system recovery might be delayed further by CMV infection (34).

During the first >2 months after HSCT, recipients might experience acute GVHD that manifests as skin, gastrointestinal, and liver injury, and is graded on a scale of I–IV (32,35,36). Although autologous or syngeneic recipients might occasionally experience a mild, self-limited illness that is acute GVHD-like (19,37), GVHD occurs primarily among allogeneic recipients, particularly those receiving matched, unrelated donor transplants. GVHD is a substantial risk factor for infection among HSCT recipients because it is associated with a delayed immunologic recovery and prolonged immunodeficiency (19). Additionally, the immunosuppressive agents used for GVHD prophylaxis and treatment might make the HSCT recipient more vulnerable to opportunistic viral and fungal pathogens (38).

Certain patients, particularly adult allogeneic recipients, might also experience chronic GVHD, which is graded as either limited or extensive chronic GVHD (19,39). Chronic GVHD appears similar to autoimmune, connective-tissue disorders (e.g., scleroderma or systemic lupus erythematosus) (40) and is associated with cellular and humoral immunodeficiencies, including macrophage deficiency, impaired neutrophil chemotaxis (41), poor response to vaccination (42–44), and severe mucositis (19). Risk factors for chronic GVHD include increasing age, allogeneic HSCT (particularly those among whom the donor is unrelated or a non-HLA identical family member) (40), and a history of acute GVHD (24,45). Chronic GVHD was first described as occurring >100 days after HSCT but can occur 40 days after HSCT (19). Although allogeneic recipients with chronic GVHD have normal or high total serum immunoglobulin levels (41), they experience long-lasting IgA, IgG, and IgG subclass deficiencies (41,46,47) and poor opsonization and impaired reticuloendothelial function. Consequently, they are at even greater risk for infections (32,39), particularly life-threatening bacterial infections from encapsulated organisms (e.g., Stre. pneumoniae, Ha. influenzae, or Ne. meningitidis). After chronic GVHD resolves, which might take years, cell-mediated and humoral immunity function are gradually restored.

HSCT recipients experience certain infections at different times posttransplant, reflecting the predominant host-defense defect(s) (Figure). Immune system recovery for HSCT recipients takes place in three phases beginning at day 0, the day of transplant. Phase I is the preengraftment phase (100 days after HSCT). Prevention strategies should be based on these three phases and the following information:

Preventing infections among HSCT recipients is preferable to treating infections. How ever, despite recent technologic advances, more research is needed to optimize health outcomes for HSCT recipients. Efforts to improve immune system reconstitution, particularly among allogeneic transplant recipients, and to prevent or resolve the immune dysregulation resulting from donor-recipient histoincompatibility and GVHD remain substantial challenges for preventing recurrent, persistent, or progressive infections among HSCT patients.

Preventing Exposure

Because bacteria are carried on the hands, health-care workers (HCWs) and others in contact with HSCT recipients should routinely follow appropriate hand-washing practices to avoid exposing recipients to bacterial pathogens (AIII).

Preventing Disease

Preventing Early Disease (0–100 Days After HSCT). Routine gut decontamination is not recommended for HSCT candidates (51–53) (DIII). Because of limited data, no recommendations can be made regarding the routine use of antibiotics for bacterial prophylaxis among afebrile, asymptomatic neutropenic recipients. Although studies have reported that using prophylactic antibiotics might reduce bacteremia rates after HSCT (51), infection-related fatality rates are not reduced (52). If physicians choose to use prophylactic antibiotics among asymptomatic, afebrile, neutropenic recipients, they should routinely review hospital and HSCT center antibiotic-susceptibility profiles, particularly when using a single antibiotic for antibacterial prophylaxis (BIII). The emergence of fluoquinolone-resistant coagulase-negative Staphylococci and Es. coli (51,52), vancomycin-intermediate Sta. aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) are increasing concerns (54). Vancomycin should not be used as an agent for routine bacterial prophylaxis (DIII). Growth factors (e.g., GM-CSF and G-CSF) shorten the duration of neutropenia after HSCT (55); however, no data were found that indicate whether growth factors effectively reduce the attack rate of invasive bacterial disease.

Physicians should not routinely administer IVIG products to HSCT recipients for bacterial infection prophylaxis (DII), although IVIG has been recommended for use in producing immune system modulation for GVHD prevention. Researchers have recommended routine IVIG*** use to prevent bacterial infections among the approximately 20%–25% of HSCT recipients with unrelated marrow grafts who experience severe hypogamma-globulinemia (e.g., IgG 400–500 mg/dl (58) (BII). Consequently, physicians should monitor trough serum IgG concentrations among these patients approximately every 2 weeks and adjust IVIG doses as needed (BIII) (Appendix).

Preventing Late Disease (>100 Days After HSCT). Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for preventing infection with encapsulated organisms (e.g., Stre. pneumoniae, Ha. influenzae, or Ne. meningitidis) among allogeneic recipients with chronic GVHD for as long as active chronic GVHD treatment is administered (59) (BIII). Antibiotic selection should be guided by local antibiotic resistance patterns. In the absence of severe demonstrable hypogammaglobulinemia (e.g., IgG levels 90 days after HSCT is not recommended (60) (DI) as a means of preventing bacterial infections.

Other Disease Prevention Recommendations. Routine use of IVIG among autologous recipients is not recommended (61) (DII). Recommendations for preventing bacterial infections are the same among pediatric or adult HSCT recipients.

Preventing Exposure

Appropriate care precautions should be taken with hospitalized patients infected with Stre. pneumoniae (62,63) (BIII) to prevent exposure among HSCT recipients.

Preventing Disease

Information regarding the currently available 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine indicates limited immunogenicity among HSCT recipients. However, because of its potential benefit to certain patients, it should be administered to HSCT recipients at 12 and 24 months after HSCT (64–66) (BIII). No data were found regarding safety and immunogenicity of the 7-valent conjugate pneumococcal vaccine among HSCT recipients; therefore, no recommendation regarding use of this vaccine can be made.

Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for preventing infection with encapsulated organisms (e.g., Stre. pneumoniae, Ha. influenzae, and Ne. meningitidis) among allogeneic recipients with chronic GVHD for as long as active chronic GVHD treatment is administered (59) (BIII). Trimethoprim-sulfamethasaxole (TMP-SMZ) administered for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) prophylaxis will also provide protection against pneumococcal infections. However, no data were found to support using TMP-SMZ prophylaxis among HSCT recipients solely for the purpose of preventing Stre. pneumoniae disease. Certain strains of Stre. pneumoniae are resistant to TMP-SMZ and penicillin. Recommendations for preventing pneumococcal infections are the same for allogeneic or autologous recipients.

As with adults, pediatric HSCT recipients aged >2 years should be administered the current 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine because the vaccine can be effective (BIII). However, this vaccine should not be administered to children aged

Preventing Exposure

Because Streptococci viridans colonize the oropharynx and gut, no effective method of preventing exposure is known.

Preventing Disease

Chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis is a potential source of Streptococci viridans bacteremia. Consequently, before conditioning starts, dental consults should be obtained for all HSCT candidates to assess their state of oral health and to perform any needed dental procedures to decrease the risk for oral infections after transplant (67) (AIII).

Generally, HSCT physicians should not use prophylactic antibiotics to prevent Streptococci viridans infections (DIII). No data were found that demonstrate efficacy of prophylactic antibiotics for this infection. Furthermore, such use might select antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and in fact, penicillin- and vancomycin-resistant strains of Streptococci viridans have been reported (68). However, when Streptococci viridans infections among HSCT recipients are virulent and associated with overwhelming sepsis and shock in an institution, prophylaxis might be evaluated (CIII). Decisions regarding the use of Streptococci viridans prophylaxis should be made only after consultation with the hospital epidemiologists or infection-control practitioners who monitor rates of nosocomial bacteremia and bacterial susceptibility (BIII).

HSCT physicians should be familiar with current antibiotic susceptibilities for patient isolates from their HSCT centers, including Streptococci viridans (BIII). Physicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for this infection among HSCT recipients with symptomatic mucositis because early diagnosis and aggressive therapy are currently the only potential means of preventing shock when severely neutropenic HSCT recipients experience Streptococci viridans bacteremia (69).

Preventing Exposure

Adults with Ha. influenzae type b (Hib) pneumonia require standard precautions (62) to prevent exposing the HSCT recipient to Hib. Adults and children who are in contact with the HSCT recipient and who have known or suspected invasive Hib disease, including meningitis, bacteremia, or epiglottitis, should be placed in droplet precautions until 24 hours after they begin appropriate antibiotic therapy, after which they can be switched to standard precautions. Household contacts exposed to persons with Hib disease and who also have contact with HSCT recipients should be administered rifampin prophylaxis according to published recommendations (70,71); prophylaxis for household contacts of a patient with Hib disease are necessary if all contacts aged

Preventing Disease

Although no data regarding vaccine efficacy among HSCT recipients were found, Hib conjugate vaccine should be administered to HSCT recipients at 12, 14, and 24 months after HSCT (BII). This vaccine is recommended because the majority of HSCT recipients have low levels of Hib capsular polysaccharide antibodies >4 months after HSCT (75), and allogeneic recipients with chronic GVHD are at increased risk for infection from encapsulated organisms (e.g., Hib) (76,77). HSCT recipients who are exposed to persons with Hib disease should be offered rifampin prophylaxis according to published recommendations (70) (BIII) (Appendix).

Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for preventing infection with encapsulated organisms (e.g., Stre. pneumoniae, Ha. influenzae, or Ne. meningitidis) among allogeneic recipients with chronic GVHD for as long as active chronic GVHD treatment is administered (59) (BIII). Antibiotic selection should be guided by local antibiotic-resistance patterns. Recommendations for preventing Hib infections are the same for allogeneic or autologous recipients. Recommendations for preventing Hib disease are the same for pediatric or adult HSCT recipients, except that any child infected with Hib pneumonia requires standard precautions with droplet precautions added for the first 24 hours after beginning appropriate antibiotic therapy (62,70) (BIII). Appropriate pediatric doses should be administered for Hib conjugate vaccine and for rifampin prophylaxis (71) (Appendix).

Preventing Exposure

HSCT candidates should be tested for the presence of serum anti-CMV IgG antibodies before transplantation to determine their risk for primary CMV infection and reactivation after HSCT (AIII). Only Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed or approved tests should be used. HSCT recipients and candidates should avoid sharing cups, glasses, and eating utensils with others, including family members, to decrease the risk for CMV exposure (BIII).

Sexually active patients who are not in long-term monogamous relationships should always use latex condoms during sexual contact to reduce their risk for exposure to CMV and other sexually transmitted pathogens (AII). However, even long-time monogamous pairs can be discordant for CMV infections. Therefore, during periods of immuno-compromise, sexually active HSCT recipients in monogamous relationships should ask partners to be tested for serum CMV IgG antibody, and discordant couples should use latex condoms during sexual contact to reduce the risk for exposure to this sexually transmitted OI (CIII).

After handling or changing diapers or after wiping oral and nasal secretions, HSCT candidates and recipients should practice regular hand washing to reduce the risk for CMV exposure (AII). CMV-seronegative recipients of allogeneic stem cell transplants from CMV-seronegative donors (i.e., R-negative or D-negative) should receive only leukocyte-reduced or CMV-seronegative red cells or leukocyte-reduced platelets (

All HCWs should wear gloves when handling blood products or other potentially contaminated biologic materials (AII) to prevent transmission of CMV to HSCT recipients. HSCT patients who are known to excrete CMV should be placed under standard precautions (62) for the duration of CMV excretion to avoid possible transmission to CMV-seronegative HSCT recipients and candidates (AIII). Physicians are cautioned that CMV excretion can be episodic or prolonged.

Preventing Disease and Disease Recurrence

HSCT recipients at risk for CMV disease after HSCT (i.e., all CMV-seropositive HSCT recipients, and all CMV-seronegative recipients with a CMV-seropositive donor) should be placed on a CMV disease prevention program from the time of engraftment until 100 days after HSCT (i.e., phase II) (AI). Physicians should use either prophylaxis or preemptive treatment with ganciclovir for allogeneic recipients (AI). In selecting a CMV disease prevention strategy, physicians should assess the risks and benefits of each strategy, the needs and condition of the patient, and the hospital’s virology laboratory support capability.

Prophylaxis strategy against early CMV (i.e.,

Preemptive strategy against early CMV (i.e., 1 times/week from 10 days to 100 days after HSCT (i.e., phase II) for the presence of CMV viremia or antigenemia (AIII).

HSCT physicians should select one of two diagnostic tests to determine the need for preemptive treatment. Currently, the detection of CMV pp65 antigen in leukocytes (antigenemia) (79,80) is preferred for screening for preemptive treatment because it is more rapid and sensitive than culture and has good positive predictive value (79–81). Direct detection of CMV-DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (82) is very sensitive but has a low positive predictive value (79). Although CMV-DNA PCR is less sensitive than whole blood or leukocyte PCR, plasma CMV-DNA PCR is useful during neutropenia, when the number of leukocytes/slide is too low to allow CMV pp65 antigenemia testing.

Virus culture of urine, saliva, blood, or bronchoalveolar washings by rapid shell-vial culture (83) or routine culture (84,85) can be used; however, viral culture techniques are less sensitive than CMV-DNA PCR or CMV pp65 antigenemia tests. Also, rapid shell-viral cultures require >48 hours and routine viral cultures can require weeks to obtain final results. Thus, viral culture techniques are less satisfactory than PCR or antigenemia tests. HSCT centers without access to PCR or antigenemia tests should use prophylaxis rather than preemptive therapy for CMV disease prevention (86) (BII). Physicians do use other diagnostic tests (e.g., hybrid capture CMV-DNA assay, Version 2.0 [87] or CMV pp67 viral RNA [ribonucleic acid] detection) (88); however, limited data were found regarding use among HSCT recipients, and therefore, no recommendation for use can be made.

Allogeneic recipients 2 consecutively positive CMV-DNA PCR tests (BIII). After preemptive treatment has been started, maintenance ganciclovir is usually continued until 100 days after HSCT or for a minimum of 3 weeks, whichever is longer (AI) (Appendix). Antigen or PCR tests should be negative when ganciclovir is stopped. Studies report that a shorter course of ganciclovir (e.g., for 3 weeks or until negative PCR or antigenemia occurs) (89–91) might provide adequate CMV prevention with less toxicity, but routine weekly screening by pp65 antigen or PCR test is necessary after stopping ganciclovir because CMV reactivation can occur (BIII).

Presently, only the intravenous formulation of ganciclovir has been approved for use in CMV prophylactic or preemptive strategies (BIII). No recommendation for oral ganciclovir use among HSCT recipients can be made because clinical trials evaluating its efficacy are still in progress. One group has used ganciclovir and foscarnet on alternate days for CMV prevention (92), but no recommendation can be made regarding this strategy because of limited data. Patients who are ganciclovir-intolerant should be administered foscarnet instead (93) (BII) (Appendix). HSCT recipients receiving ganciclovir should have ANCs checked >2 times/week (BIII). Researchers report managing ganciclovir-associated neutropenia by adding G-CSF (94) or temporarily stopping ganciclovir for >2 days if the patient’s ANC is 1,000 for 2 consecutive days. Alternatively, researchers report substituting foscarnet for ganciclovir if a) the HSCT recipient is still CMV viremic or antigenemic or b) the ANC remains 5 days after ganciclovir has been stopped (CIII) (Appendix). Because neutropenia accompanying ganciclovir administration is usually brief, such patients do not require antifungal or antibacterial prophylaxis (DIII).

Currently, no benefit has been reported from routinely administering ganciclovir prophylaxis to all HSCT recipients at >100 days after HSCT (i.e., during phase III). However, persons with high risk for late CMV disease should be routinely screened biweekly for evidence of CMV reactivation as long as substantial immunocompromise persists (BIII). Risk factors for late CMV disease include allogeneic HSCT accompanied by chronic GVHD, steroid use, low CD4 counts, delay in high avidity anti-CMV antibody, and recipients of matched unrelated or T-cell–depleted HSCTs who are at high risk (95–99). If CMV is still detectable by routine screening >100 days after HSCT, ganciclovir should be continued until CMV is no longer detectable (AI). If low-grade CMV antigenemia (5 cells/slide, PCR is positive, or the shell-vial culture detects CMV viremia, a 3-week course of preemptive ganciclovir treatment should be administered (BIII) (Appendix). Ganciclovir should also be started if the patient has had >2 consecutively positive viremia or PCR tests (e.g., in a person receiving steroids for GVHD or who received ganciclovir or foscarnet at

If viremia persists after 4 weeks of ganciclovir preemptive therapy or if the level of antigenemia continues to rise after 3 weeks of therapy, ganciclovir-resistant CMV should be suspected. If CMV viremia recurs during continuous treatment with ganciclovir, researchers report restarting ganciclovir induction (100) or stopping ganciclovir and starting foscarnet (CIII). Limited data were found regarding the use of foscarnet among HSCT recipients for either CMV prophylaxis or preemptive therapy (92,93).

Infusion of donor-derived CMV-specific clones of CD8+ T-cells into the transplant recipient is being evaluated under FDA Investigational New Drug authorization; therefore, no recommendation can be made. Although, in a substantial cooperative study, high-dose acyclovir has had certain efficacy for preventing CMV disease (101), its utility is limited in a setting where more potent anti-CMV agents (e.g., ganciclovir) are used (102). Acyclovir is not effective in preventing CMV disease after autologous HSCT (103) and is, therefore, not recommended for CMV preemptive therapy (DII). Consequently, valacyclovir, although under study for use among HSCT recipients, is presumed to be less effective than ganciclovir against CMV and is currently not recommended for CMV disease prevention (DII).

Although HSCT physicians continue to use IVIG for immune system modulation, IVIG is not recommended for CMV disease prophylaxis among HSCT recipients (DI). Cidofovir, a nucleoside analog, is approved by FDA for the treatment of AIDS-associated CMV retinitis. The drug’s major disadvantage is nephrotoxicity. Cidofovir is currently in FDA phase 1 trial for use among HSCT recipients; therefore, recommendations for its use cannot be made.

Use of CMV-negative or leukocyte-reduced blood products is not routinely required for all autologous recipients because most have a substantially lower risk for CMV disease. However, CMV-negative or leukocyte-reduced blood products can be used for CMV-seronegative autologous recipients (CIII). Researchers report that CMV-seropositive autologous recipients be evaluated for preemptive therapy if they have underlying hematologic malignancies (e.g., lymphoma or leukemia), are receiving intense conditioning regimens or graft manipulation, or have recently received fludarabine or 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine (CDA) (CIII). This subpopulation of autologous recipients should be monitored weekly from time of engraftment until 60 days after HSCT for CMV reactivation, preferably with quantitative CMV pp65 antigen (80) or quantitative PCR (BII).

Autologous recipients at high risk who experience CMV antigenemia (i.e., blood levels of >5 positive cells/slide) should receive 3 weeks of preemptive treatment with ganciclovir or foscarnet (80), but CD34+-selected patients should be treated at any level of antigenemia (BII) (Appendix). Prophylactic approach to CMV disease prevention is not appropriate for CMV-seropositive autologous recipients. Indications for the use of CMV prophylaxis or preemptive treatment are the same for children or adults.

Preventing Exposure

All transplant candidates, particularly those who are EBV-seronegative, should be advised of behaviors that could decrease the likelihood of EBV exposure (AII). For example, HSCT recipients and candidates should follow safe hygiene practices (e.g., frequent hand washing [AIII] and avoiding the sharing of cups, glasses, and eating utensils with others) (104) (BIII), and they should avoid contact with potentially infected respiratory secretions and saliva (104) (AII).

Preventing Disease

Infusion of donor-derived, EBV-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes has demonstrated promise in the prophylaxis of EBV-lymphoma among recipients of T-cell–depleted unrelated or mismatched allogeneic recipients (105,106). However, insufficient data were found to recommend its use. Prophylaxis or preemptive therapy with acyclovir is not recommended because of lack of efficacy (107,108) (DII).

Preventing Exposure

HSCT candidates should be tested for serum anti-HSV IgG before transplant (AIII); however, type-specific anti-HSV IgG serology testing is not necessary. Only FDA-licensed or -approved tests should be used. All HSCT candidates, particularly those who are HSV-seronegative, should be informed of the importance of avoiding HSV infection while immunocompromised and should be advised of behaviors that will decrease the likelihood of HSV exposure (AII). HSCT recipients and candidates should avoid sharing cups, glasses, and eating utensils with others (BIII). Sexually active patients who are not in a long-term monogamous relationship should always use latex condoms during sexual contact to reduce the risk for exposure to HSV as well as other sexually transmitted pathogens (AII). However, even long-time monogamous pairs can be discordant for HSV infections. Therefore, during periods of immunocompromise, sexually active HSCT recipients in such relationships should ask partners to be tested for serum HSV IgG antibody. If the partners are discordant, they should consider using latex condoms during sexual contact to reduce the risk for exposure to this sexually transmitted OI (CIII). Any person with disseminated, primary, or severe mucocutaneous HSV disease should be placed under contact precautions for the duration of the illness (62) (AI) to prevent transmission of HSV to HSCT recipients.

Preventing Disease and Disease Recurrence

Acyclovir. Acyclovir prophylaxis should be offered to all HSV-seropositive allogeneic recipients to prevent HSV reactivation during the early posttransplant period (109–113) (AI). Standard approach is to begin acyclovir prophylaxis at the start of the conditioning therapy and continue until engraftment occurs or until mucositis resolves, whichever is longer, or approximately 30 days after HSCT (BIII) (Appendix). Without supportive data from controlled studies, routine use of antiviral prophylaxis for >30 days after HSCT to prevent HSV is not recommended (DIII). Routine acyclovir prophylaxis is not indicated for HSV-seronegative HSCT recipients, even if the donors are HSV-seropositive (DIII). Researchers have proposed administration of ganciclovir prophylaxis alone (86) to HSCT recipients who required simultaneous prophylaxis for CMV and HSV after HSCT (CIII) because ganciclovir has in vitro activity against CMV and HSV 1 and 2 (114), although ganciclovir has not been approved for use against HSV.

Valacyclovir. Researchers have reported valacyclovir use for preventing HSV among HSCT recipients (CIII); however, preliminary data demonstrate that very high doses of valacyclovir (8 g/day) were associated with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura/hemolytic uremic syndrome among HSCT recipients (115). Controlled trial data among HSCT recipients are limited (115), and the FDA has not approved valacyclovir for use among recipients. Physicians wishing to use valacyclovir among recipients with renal impairment should exercise caution and decrease doses as needed (BIII) (Appendix).

Foscarnet. Because of its substantial renal and infusion-related toxicity, foscarnet is not recommended for routine HSV prophylaxis among HSCT recipients (DIII).

Famciclovir. Presently, data regarding safety and efficacy of famciclovir among HSCT recipients are limited; therefore, no recommendations for HSV prophylaxis with famciclovir can be made.

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