Researchers at the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London have developed the CanRisk-Prostate tool for predicting an individual’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

According to the UK-based Institute of Cancer Research, the test will help men at the greatest risk of the disease and reduces unnecessary and possibly invasive testing for individuals at very low risk.

The researchers created the first complete prostate cancer model by using genetic and cancer family history information from nearly 17,000 prostate cancer-affected families.

To estimate future risks, the model combines information on rare genetic flaws in moderate-to-high-risk genes with a risk score based on 268 common low-risk variants and a thorough family history of cancer.

Institute of Cancer Research Oncogenetics professor Ros Eeles said: “This is an important step forward as it will enable clinicians to have conversations with men about their individual risk of prostate cancer based on the most accurate computer model to date.

“This will help them in making decisions about screening.”

According to the results published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the model predicted a higher risk for men whose fathers had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was found to be 27% if the father was diagnosed at an older age of 80 years and over and 42% if the father was diagnosed at a young age, around 50 years.

In the case of men with genetic faults, it was found that nearly 54% of them who had an alteration in the BRCA2 gene would develop prostate cancer. However, the risk was significantly lower in men with BRCA2 gene faults who also had a small number of the low-risk variants, but significantly greater in those whose low-risk variants were large in number.

According to the study, practitioners would be able to deliver a personalised risk prediction in practice by using any combination of cancer family history, and common and rare genetic variations.

The Institute of Cancer said that a prostate risk clinic has been established at its Early Detection and Diagnosis Centre and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to turn these discoveries into focused screening programmes.