Identifying the genetic markers that could predict the early onset of prostate cancer may provide experts with useful information to screen men who may be at risk.
The Alfred, together with Cancer Council of Australia, has commenced a multi-centre collaborative study to examine the lives of men with aggressive prostate cancer, from the time of conception to adulthood. Researchers are taking into account family history and genetic characteristics to identify the role of life patterns and genes in the development of prostate cancer. In addition, the study will investigate the level of testosterone exposure in utero.
Interestingly, the length of a man's index and ring finger is thought to be related to testosterone levels in the womb, and is thought to be a possible link to prostate cancer in men later in life.
Associate Professor Peter Royce, director of Alfred urology, said while several studies have made in-roads in unravelling the genetic mysteries of prostate cancer, it now appears there may also be a link with an unborn child's contact with testosterone.
"There is not one gene that definitively causes prostate cancer, although some genes or gene mutations have been shown to be more common for men with prostate cancer," Peter said.
"However, the consensus is that the level of testosterone in the womb is of concern. In combining family history, lifestyle choices and measuring the length of their fingers, we may be able to screen men who may be at risk earlier and provide treatment options."