Men with prostate cancer and an inherited gene mutation must be treated immediately, as their disease is more aggressive than other types, scientists in the UK have found.

After diagnosis, many patients with prostate cancer receive active surveillance to see if the disease starts to progress.

Now researchers say that those men who have inherited the faulty BRCA2 gene are in urgent need of surgery or radiotherapy.

A team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust found prostate cancers spread more quickly and survival rates were poor in men who had inherited a faulty gene.

The study, published in the Journal of the Clinical Oncology, looked at the medical records of prostate cancer patients, which included 61 men with BRCA2, 18 men with a similar gene mutation called BRCA1 and 1940 non carriers.

Patients with BRCA2 mutations were less likely to survive the cancer, living an average of 6.5 years, compared with 12.9 years for non-carriers.

Men with the BRCA1 mutation had an average survival time of 10.5 years.

Senior author of the study Professor Ros Eeles said; "It is clear from our study that prostate cancers linked to inheritance of the BRCA2 cancer gene are more deadly than other types. It must make sense to start offering affected men immediate surgery or radiotherapy, even for early-stage cases that would otherwise be classified as low-risk.

"We won’t be able to tell for certain that earlier treatment can benefit men with inherited cancer genes until we’ve tested it in a clinical trial, but the hope is that our study will ultimately save lives by directing treatment at those who most need it."

The Institute of Cancer Research CEO Professor Alan Ashworth added; "Our knowledge of cancer genetics is now increasingly shaping the way we treat the disease, by allowing us to offer more intensive treatment, or even different drugs altogether, for people who have inherited cancer genes."

Image: Faulty genes appear to make cancers more aggressive. Photo: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.