Public Release: 

Men at greater risk of developing prostate cancer when a brother has the disease

Fox Chase Cancer Center study finds risk is increased nearly three-fold

Fox Chase Cancer Center

PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 11, 2003)-- It has been well-established that the risk of prostate cancer is increased among men who have a first-degree relative (father, son, brother) with the disease, but new research shows the risk is greatly increased for men who have a brother with prostate cancer. The meta-analysis research led by Deborah Watkins Bruner, Ph.D., at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pa., will be published online Friday, Sept. 12, 2003, in the International Journal of Cancer.

"This study is the first to report a statistically higher risk associated with having a brother with prostate cancer than having an affected father," said Bruner.

Bruner, director of the Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program at Fox Chase, and her colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the current literature, using 23 of 332 published studies that met meticulous criteria.

The results confirmed an increased risk of prostate cancer for men with a family history of the disease, but the meta-analysis revealed a 2.9 fold increased risk when the affected relative was a brother. The risk increased 1.8 fold when the affected relative was a second-degree family member (a grandfather or uncle), and 2.1 fold when the relative with prostate cancer was a father.

"Unlike the maternal-child pattern that we see with inherited breast cancers, a brother with prostate cancer was associated with a significantly increased risk of the disease compared to a father or any other relative with the disease," explained Bruner. "This may suggest that the risk may be related to shared environmental factors such as dietary exposures or age of onset of disease, which might reveal a stronger genetic risk."

Bruner said this is another crucial step to better identify who is at risk of developing prostate cancer. "The ultimate goal is to reduce unnecessary screenings and biopsies by identifying at-risk populations and better tailor prostate cancer screening for those men." Bruner concluded by saying more research into patterns of inherited prostate cancer risk is needed. "We need to assess the risk of disease associated with younger age [less than 65 or 70 years] of onset, dietary habits and lifestyle behaviors that may interact with inherited genes to increase prostate cancer risk."


For more information about the Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center call 215-728-7041. Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at or call 1-888-FOX CHASE.

Article: "Relative Risk of Prostate Cancer for Men with Affected Relatives: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis." Deborah Watkins Bruner, Ph.D., Dirk Moore, Ph.D., Alicia Parlanti, M.S., Joanne Dorgan, Ph.D., Paul Engstrom, M.D.; International Journal of Cancer.

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