This article focuses on HOXB13 results for people who have a prostate. This includes cisgender men, transgender women, and non-binary and intersex individuals who have a prostate. People without a prostate — including cisgender women and transgender men — are not at risk for prostate cancer. The information in this article is most relevant to people whose birth sex is male and have a prostate – in this article, we use the word “male” to refer to this group of people. You can learn more about how we use birth sex and gender in this help article.
Learning you have a HOXB13 variant can cause many different emotions. You likely have questions about what this result means for you and what you can do. You may also wonder what your result means for your family. There are important conversations you should have with healthcare professionals. In this article, we’ll help you begin to think about these conversations and explore what next steps you can take.
What this result means
The HOXB13 variant included in our test is associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer. However, it’s important to remember that an increased risk does not mean you will definitely develop prostate cancer. There are other factors that may impact your risk -- and there may be options for screening that you can discuss with a healthcare professional.
Studies suggest that 33–53% of males with the G84E variant develop prostate cancer by age 80, compared to about a 13% lifetime risk for males in the general population. People with this variant who develop prostate cancer also tend to do so at an earlier age. Exact risks depend on family history and other factors.
For your family
Genetic variants like the G84E variant in the HOXB13 gene are passed through families, so your result for this report may be relevant to your family members. If any male relatives — like your father, and any brothers or male children — also have this variant, they would have an increased risk for prostate cancer.
What should I do now?
We recommend that people with the HOXB13 G84E variant speak to a healthcare professional about their result.
- Talk to your doctor or a genetic counselor about confirming your result. It’s important to confirm a 23andMe HOXB13 result with an independent genetic test prescribed by your own healthcare provider before taking any medical action. This is because the 23andMe test is performed at-home rather than in a doctor's office, and also because results you receive from 23andMe are not intended for diagnostic use. If you're not sure who to talk to, genetic counselors are a good option. Genetic counselors are trained to help people understand genetic testing options, and they can work with other healthcare professionals to coordinate your care. Ask your healthcare provider about access to genetic counseling services, or see below to learn how to search for a genetic counselor near you.
- Discuss prostate cancer screening options. Your doctor may talk with you about different options for cancer screening. Cancer screening can help detect certain cancers at an earlier stage, when they may be more treatable. Screening guidelines for prostate cancer vary, but some guidelines recommend earlier screening in males with your genetic result. Your doctor can help you find a screening strategy that's right for you.
- Consider talking to your family about your result. Since the G84E variant is passed down from generation to generation, your family members may also carry the variant you do. Informing your male family members about potential genetic health risks so that they can take action can be an important benefit of finding out about your own HOXB13 result. We encourage you to review our help article, Shared Risk: Talking To Family Members About Genetic Test Results, which includes a few important questions to think about and some ideas that may help you find the right approach for sharing genetic risk information.
Things you and a healthcare professional might consider
- Family history. If you have a family history of prostate cancer or other cancers, make sure you bring this up with your doctor in addition to your HOXB13 result. Your doctor will likely talk to you about the history of cancer in your family when helping you determine appropriate next steps.
- Lifestyle factors. In general, maintaining a healthy weight may reduce the risk for prostate cancer. However, more research is needed to fully understand the impact of this and other lifestyle factors on prostate cancer risk in people with your genetic result.
Need more support?
There are many resources out there that can help people with the G84E variant in the HOXB13 gene. These resources can be especially valuable if you do not currently have a healthcare provider or a personal doctor.
Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals who specialize in hereditary conditions and are specifically trained to help people understand their genetics in the context of personal and family history. They can provide both medical knowledge and emotional support. Speaking with a genetic counselor about your result can ensure that you have a clear understanding of what your result means for you personally. A genetic counselor can also help you think about different screening options, and work with other healthcare professionals to coordinate your care.
Your healthcare provider may be able to provide you with a recommendation for a genetic counselor. You can also visit the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) or American Board of Genetic Counseling websites to find a genetic counselor convenient for you.
To search for a genetic counselor using the NGSC website:
- Choose whether you'd like to talk with a genetic counselor in person or via telehealth.
- Enter information about where you live to match with a genetic counselor who is nearby, or who offers telehealth counseling.
- (Optional) Choose whether you'd like a genetic counselor who specializes in a certain topic area. Because you'll be talking about cancer risk, we encourage you to select "cancer" from the list of options.
- After clicking "search," you'll be provided with a list of genetic counselors and a way to contact each of them.
Education and support from advocacy organizations
Learning that you have the G84E variant in the HOXB13 gene can be difficult, but know that you’re not alone. There are several organizations that provide resources for people with a genetic risk of cancer. Services offered by these organizations may include educational materials, online discussion forums, peer-to-peer support programs, helplines, and access to genetic counselors. This list of resources is for informational purposes to help you navigate your healthcare decision making and may be updated over time.
- FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered): FORCE is the voice of the hereditary cancer community, providing support, education and awareness to help those facing hereditary prostate cancer know their healthcare options and make informed decisions. Specially trained volunteers offer one-on-one support where you may be matched with someone who shares a similar experience.
- American Cancer Society: The American Cancer Society is a nonprofit organization that provides information on all types of cancers. In regards to prostate cancer, they provide information on causes, risk factors, prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and post-treatment options.
- Prostate Cancer Foundation: The Prostate Cancer Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to funding promising research to improve the prevention, detection, and treatment of prostate cancer. They provide information on causes, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment. They also have helpful guides, webinars, and links to external support groups.