Harvard Men's Health Watch

Genetic screening for prostate cancer

Genes regulate the growth, multiplication, and death of all human cells. Cancer develops when cell growth escapes from the normal control that holds it in check. In a fundamental sense, then, all cancers depend on genetic abnormalities.

In some cases, abnormal genes are passed down from parent to child. In others, problems develop after birth as a result of environmental influences, including nutritional imbalances and exposure to tobacco, radiation, and toxins.

If genes are responsible for cancer, then therapies that target genetic abnormalities should be beneficial. That possibility lies in the future, but we are already at the point where genetic testing can predict the risk of certain cancers. The breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the best-known examples.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »