Objectives. To confirm, in a study of a large, independent cohort of families with prostate cancer, the findings of three segregation analyses that have suggested the existence of an inherited form of prostate cancer with an autosomal dominant inheritance mode. Methods. Between January 1991 and December 1993, 1199 pedigrees were ascertained through single, unrelated, prostate cancer probands who presented for radical prostatectomy at the Division of Urologic Surgery, Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Maximum likelihood segregation analysis was used to test specifically for mendelian inheritance of prostate cancer. Results. Segregation analyses revealed that the familial aggregation of prostate cancer can be best explained by the autosomal dominant inheritance of a rare (q = 0.0037) high-risk allele. According to the best-fitting autosomal dominant model, 97% of all carriers will be affected by 85 years of age compared with 10% of noncarriers. Furthermore, the autosomal dominant model predicts that the high-risk allele accounts for a large proportion (65%) of all patients diagnosed with prostate cancer before 56 years of age. However, of all prostate cancer cases, a relatively small proportion is inherited (8% by 85 years old). Conclusions. These results are in agreement with earlier reports of segregation analyses of prostate cancer and strengthen the evidence that prostate cancer is inherited in a mendelian fashion within a subset of families.
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