The number of younger men diagnosed with late-stage prostate cancer has been rising sharply over the past two decades.
Prostate cancer has generally been associated with aging. But researchers at the University of Michigan say it's time to rethink that.
Dr. Kathleen Cooney is professor of internal medicine and urology at the university. She said there could also be a genetic factor that makes some men more susceptible to the disease earlier in their lives.
"Although these mutations may be rare and family-specific, within families we could offer both DNA testing and potentially screening so we can pick up disease earlier in certain individuals," said Cooney.
Cooney said prostate cancer has been occurring more and more in men under the age of 55. Some of that can be traced to better and more frequent screening, but researchers say the rise has been too dramatic to be explained by screenings alone.
"Some men in this cohort have really aggressive forms of the disease, and so we believe that we can uncover interesting biology through this work that will have important potential therapeutic implications," added Cooney.
The researchers analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute that was collected between 1987 and 2008.
– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom