The researchers are hoping that these findings may lead to the development of a simple genotype-based assay that could be used in conjunction with PSA testing and digital rectal exams (DREs) to aid the oncology team and patient in accurately predicting disease risk.

“We are still getting in the door yet, but we are one step closer to using genetic testing to identify high-risk patients for prostate cancer,” said study investigator Jong Park, PhD, who is an associate member and molecular epidemiologist in the Cancer Epidemiology Program at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL.

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“We are not going to replace the PSA test. The problem with the PSA test is that it has a high false–positive rate. This could be a supplementary test and they could complement each other.”

He said identifying those men who have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer may reduce mortality. Dr. Park said prostate cancer is the second biggest cancer killer of men in the United States and those men with a family history of prostate cancer have a two-fold greater risk of developing it. microRNAs are small molecules that work as master-regulators, which control multiple cancer-related genes by binding regulatory regions of target genes.

“The fact is that one out of six men is going to get prostate cancer in their lifetime.  Based on our genetic test, we can now give a more specific number,” Dr. Park said in an interview with Cancer Therapy Advisor.

“We can give them an individual number.  We can tell some patients they have a 50% chance and other patients we can say you only have a 5% chance.”

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Ruth Etzioni, PhD, who is an affiliate Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, said these findings may be beneficial in preventing overtreatment of prostate cancer.  However, she cautioned that these findings will have to be confirmed in future studies.

“This is not the first time this type of claim has been made.  We have to wait to see how important these findings are.  We want to improve our detection of the cancer that has the potential to be fatal.  So you want to know whether they are detecting that kind of cancer,” said Dr. Etzioni in an interview with Cancer Therapy Advisor.


  1. Stegeman S, Amankwah E, Klein K, et al.  A Large-Scale Analysis of Genetic Variants within Putative miRNA Binding Sites in Prostate Cancer. Cancer Discov. 2015:5(4);368-379.