First-of-its-Kind Study Looks at Link Between Genes and Prostate Cancer

August 26, 2021 | Press Releases

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University, University of Washington School of Medicine seeking prostate cancer patients with specific inherited genetic factors for study


WASHINGTON and SEATTLE, August 26, 2021 – In the United States, one in nine men will get prostate cancer and more than 4 million men are currently living with the disease.


Today, on the eve of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington School of Medicine announced they are collaborating on a first-of-its-kind long-term observational study to learn how genetic differences can affect patient outcomes. Dubbed PROMISE (Prostate Cancer Registry of Outcomes and Germline Mutations for Improved Survival and Treatment Effectiveness), this research will examine how particular genetic profiles can:
• Influence the susceptibility of men to prostate cancer.
• Impact the effectiveness of existing treatments.
• Improve guidance for existing and new treatment options.
• Suggest precise areas to explore for new discoveries.


PROMISE researchers are seeking prostate cancer patients nationwide, ages 18+ with specific inherited genetic factors using a saliva DNA test. PROMISE will access each patient’s medical information via their physician every six months. PROMISE will also survey participating patients every six months about their treatment experience.


While genetic information has contributed to advances in treatment of diseases such as breast cancer, it has not been widely used in prostate cancer. Researchers anticipate that the PROMISE study will lead to important new discoveries, new research and new treatment therapies.


“If we want to better understand prostate cancer, we have to better understand genes,” explained Dr. Heather Cheng, PhD, associate professor of medical oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine; director of the Prostate Cancer Genetics Clinic at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; faculty member at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; and co- lead investigator of PROMISE. “This information is the next step in our collective fight against the disease.”


Dr. Cheng is working closely with Dr. Channing Paller, associate professor of oncology and urology at Johns Hopkins University, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center; associate director for oncology of the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network; and co-lead investigator of PROMISE. They know that prostate cancer may be written in some men’s genes, but so are instructions for discovering new treatments and understanding family risk. Together, Dr. Cheng and Dr. Paller will bring more genetic information to the fight against prostate cancer.


How PROMISE works

PROMISE is completely free. Participants continue with their current healthcare provider and do not need to leave home to participate. Registration can be done online and PROMISE will send a simple, home-based DNA test kit. Participants provide a saliva sample and return it via pre-paid U.S. mail. The kit will screen for 30 cancer risk genes. PROMISE will send the results and will provide a licensed genetic counselor to help participants understand their results. Participants will learn if they have any gene mutations that might affect their care plan. The results may inform patients of available treatment options and previously unknown risks of family members developing cancer.


Benefits of joining the PROMISE study.


Prostate cancer patients who join PROMISE will:
• Receive free genetic testing and counseling that will provide important new information about genetic factors in their cancer and discover if they have a critical gene mutation that may impact their care plan.
• Help family members understand their own risk of cancer and the risk for future generations.
• Receive the most current information about new research, clinical trial opportunities, and treatments approved by the FDA. This information is sent via regular newsletters and updates.
• Make an important contribution to advancing research and understanding of prostate cancer by providing essential genetic information and long-term outcomes.


PROMISE is supported by a group of mission-driven nonprofit organizations. Study management is provided by The Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium (PCCTC). No pharmaceutical firms or any commercial interests are supporting this research. To learn more, visit

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