Prostate Cancer is the second most common cancer among American men, with almost one in nine being diagnosed in their lifetime. For decades, there has been no good understanding of what drives prostate cancer beyond the androgen receptor. The main function of the androgen receptor is as a DNA-binding transcription factor that regulates gene expression.

University of Minnesota Physicians (M Physicians) specialists have been involved in national and international collaborations to better understand the biology and treatment options available for their patients.

Over the last five years, studies have found about 10–12 percent of all prostate cancers appear to be related to inherited genetic syndromes, with the most common being mutations in the BRCA 2 gene. The BRCA genes are important for preventing cancer and repairing damaged cells. If the gene is lost or mutated, prostate cancer is able to grow more easily and quickly, and patients will stop responding to conventional treatments. 

Arpit Rao, MD, M Physicians oncologist and hematologist stated:

“It is of great value for patients with the gene mutation to come to a center of excellence. We can set them up with genetic counseling, help their family members get tested and guide their management.” 

A prostate cancer patient with the BRCA mutation in all of his normal cells indicates that the gene was hereditary and it can be passed along to his children. Identifying cancer at an early stage is crucial, making it important for children to get tested if their father has the hereditary gene mutation. 

Charles Ryan MD, M Physicians Oncologist, is leading the clinical trials for Triton II, a PARP inhibitor developed for the treatment of cancer. “Early data from the clinical trial showed remarkable responses for first-time prostate cancer patients with a BRCA mutation,” said Dr. Rao. “People are always asking ‘What’s the next big thing for men with advanced or metastatic prostate cancer?’ Well this might be it, at least for some of those men.”  Additional findings for the Triton II research will be released in the near future.