Applying a genetic risk score for prostate cancer to men with lower urinary tract symptoms in primary care to predict prostate cancer diagnosis: a cohort study in the UK Biobank

Br J Cancer. 2022 Nov;127(8):1534-1539. doi: 10.1038/s41416-022-01918-z. Epub 2022 Aug 18.


Background: Prostate cancer is highly heritable, with >250 common variants associated in genome-wide association studies. It commonly presents with non-specific lower urinary tract symptoms that are frequently associated with benign conditions.

Methods: Cohort study using UK Biobank data linked to primary care records. Participants were men with a record showing a general practice consultation for a lower urinary tract symptom. The outcome measure was prostate cancer diagnosis within 2 years of consultation. The predictor was a genetic risk score of 269 genetic variants for prostate cancer.

Results: A genetic risk score (GRS) is associated with prostate cancer in symptomatic men (OR per SD increase = 2.12 [1.86-2.41] P = 3.5e-30). An integrated risk model including age and GRS applied to symptomatic men predicted prostate cancer (AUC 0.768 [0.739-0.796]). Prostate cancer incidence was 8.1% (6.7-9.7) in the highest risk quintile. In the lowest quintile, prostate cancer incidence was <1%.

Conclusions: This study is the first to apply GRS in primary care to improve the triage of symptomatic patients. Men with the lowest genetic risk of developing prostate cancer could safely avoid invasive investigation, whilst those identified with the greatest risk could be fast-tracked for further investigation. These results show that a GRS has potential application to improve the diagnostic pathway of symptomatic patients in primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Specimen Banks
  • Cohort Studies
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms* / diagnosis
  • Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms* / epidemiology
  • Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms* / etiology
  • Male
  • Primary Health Care
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology