A Polygenic Risk Score Predicts Incident Prostate Cancer Risk in Older Men but Does Not Select for Clinically Significant Disease

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Nov 19;13(22):5815. doi: 10.3390/cancers13225815.


Despite the high prevalence of prostate cancer in older men, the predictive value of a polygenic risk score (PRS) remains uncertain in men aged ≥70 years. We used a 6.6 million-variant PRS to predict the risk of incident prostate cancer in a prospective study of 5701 men of European descent aged ≥70 years (mean age 75 years) enrolled in the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) clinical trial. The study endpoint was prostate cancer, including metastatic or non-metastatic disease, confirmed by an expert panel. After excluding participants with a history of prostate cancer at enrolment, we used a multivariable Cox proportional hazards model to assess the association between the PRS and incident prostate cancer risk, adjusting for covariates. Additionally, we examined the distribution of Gleason grade groups by PRS group to determine if a higher PRS was associated with higher grade disease. We tested for interaction between the PRS and aspirin treatment. Logistic regression was used to independently assess the association of the PRS with prevalent (pre-trial) prostate cancer, reported in medical histories. During a median follow-up time of 4.6 years, 218 of the 5701 participants (3.8%) were diagnosed with prostate cancer. The PRS predicted incident risk with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.52 per standard deviation (SD) (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.33-1.74, p < 0.001). Men in the top quintile of the PRS distribution had an almost three times higher risk of prostate cancer than men in the lowest quintile (HR = 2.99 (95% CI 1.90-4.27), p < 0.001). However, a higher PRS was not associated with a higher Gleason grade groups. We found no interaction between aspirin treatment and the PRS for prostate cancer risk. The PRS was also associated with prevalent prostate cancer (odds ratio = 1.80 per SD (95% CI 1.65-1.96), p < 0.001).While a PRS for prostate cancer is strongly associated with incident risk in men aged ≥70 years, the clinical utility of the PRS as a biomarker is currently limited by its inability to select for clinically significant disease.

Keywords: Gleason grade; polygenic risk score; prostate cancer.