Researchers are looking for two kinds of gene. "High risk" genes increase the likelihood of developing the disease, while "low penetrance" genes are less of a risk but may be far more common. Scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research expect to find low penetrance genes in many prostate cancer patients, even those with no family history of the disease.
The search for these genes will focus on almost 1,000 patients being treated at the Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton, south-west London. Work to identify high-risk genes will involve 109 hospitals throughout the country.
Dr Ros Eeles, clinical senior lecturer at the Institute, said: "It is very important to identify low penetrance genes because the indications are that they may be relevant to a large number of cases. Discovery of these genes will increase our understanding of the disease and open up the possibility of preventative treatments.
To help with the research the institute wants to hear from men aged under 55 suffering from prostate cancer, brothers with prostate cancer where one brother is under 65, and families with three or more cases of the disease at any age. Prostate cancer is the fourth commonest cause of death from cancer in UK males, affecting one in four men by 2018.Reuse content