Five years ago this summer my father died of prostate cancer after a brave battle with the disease. Currently, some of my friends are also going through the same experience with their fathers. The fact that it is one of the more common cancers in men does not lessen the pain for families.

Regular checkups and annual PSA screening can help, but like many cancers, this one can go from benign to malignant and spread around other areas of the body in less than a year.

Cancers begin with some form of genetic change where material is added or subtracted. The challenge scientists face is in tracking these abnormalities down and then designing drugs to either reverse the damage in the early stages or slow the growth of the disease.

Today it was announced that scientists in Iceland have identified a common genetic marker that may indicate a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. This is important because for widespread screening to be successful and effective, it pays to identify those most at risk and follow them more closely.

The finding is not going to bring my Dad back or help my friends Dads who all have end-stage disease, but it does give hope to future generations that screening and earlier identification of prostate cancer may be feasible. Most cancers are curable if detected early and surgery is possible.


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