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C Ntais, A Polycarpou and A Tsatsoulis

In most western countries prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in men. Despite its high morbidity and mortality the etiology of prostate cancer remains obscure. The involvement of androgens has been examined extensively in prostate carcinogenesis but the results of most epidemiological studies remain inconclusive. This review focuses on current perspectives of androgen levels and polymorphisms in androgen-related genes. Racial differences in genetic polymorphisms that have a role in the biosynthesis and metabolism of androgens may partly account for racial differences in prostate cancer risk. Reasons are also given for inconsistent results in molecular epidemiological studies and insights and directions for future research are discussed. The development of a polygenic model for prostate cancer, incorporating multiple loci from the individual genes, may maximize the chance of identifying individuals with high-risk genotypes, resulting in better preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies.