Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_94057

Over 80 genetic regions linked to breast, prostate or ovarian cancer

8 April 2013
Appeared in BioNews 699

The largest ever study into cancer genes has identified more than 80 genetic markers for breast, prostate and ovarian cancer.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Institute of Cancer Research studied the DNA of more than 200,000 people to investigate inherited risk of the disease. They found more than 80 genetic regions that were linked to the three hormone-related cancers.

The results could lead to improved screening for cancer to assess an individual's level of risk. Identifying high-risk people earlier on means that they can receive preventative treatments or be monitored regularly to ensure the disease is picked up when treatable.

Professor Doug Easton, a Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Cambridge, said: 'We're on the verge of being able to use our knowledge of these genetic variations to develop tests that could complement breast cancer screening and take us a step closer to having an effective prostate cancer screening programme'.

The scientists found that those with genetic variations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these areas are at a higher risk of developing cancer. Their findings showed that each SNP increases the risk by a small amount, and the more SNPs a person has, the greater their chance of developing cancer.

Screening for these SNPs will also identify people who are at a lower than average risk, which could prevent distress and harm caused by unnecessary treatment of false positives and reduce screening costs.

The researchers uncovered 49 SNPs related to breast cancer alone, which doubled the number of previously known variants. They also looked for SNPs that affected the behaviour of different types of breast cancer. Women with a gene fault known as BRCA1 were found to be more likely to develop the disease if they had many of these SNPs.

'By looking for people who carry most of these variations we will be able to identify those who are at the greatest risk of getting these cancers and then targeting screening tests to these individuals', said Professor Easton.

Many of the SNPs identified were near to areas of the genome that control how certain genes behave. Genetic variation in these areas could lead to cells growing out of control or allow cancer cells to spread throughout the body. The researchers hope that by understanding how these genes work, they will gain an insight into how cancers develop and how to treat them.

The main results were published in five papers in Nature Genetics.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
16 January 2017 - by Dr Loredana Guglielmi 
Researchers have identified 23 genes that are linked to metastasis – the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body...
6 January 2014 - by Dr Rachel Montgomery 
An injection to prevent breast cancer by silencing a cancer-causing gene has shown early promise in mouse studies...
30 September 2013 - by Daryl Ramai 
Molecular similarities among different tumour types have been identified, revealing new ways to classify cancer...
19 August 2013 - by Dr Sarah Spain 
A team of researchers has comprehensively charted the genetic 'signatures' of processes that drive tumour development for the first time...
28 May 2013 - by Chris Jacobs 
The news about Angelina Jolie opting for a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer has undoubtedly raised concerns among women with a family history of the disease. Whilst this news has certainly raised awareness of hereditary cancer, there are two key points that it is important to emphasize...
25 March 2013 - by Nina Chohan 
The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics has published a report recommending that patients who have their genomes sequenced should automatically be told of incidental genetic findings....
18 March 2013 - by Dr Nicola Davis 
A blood test is being developed that could help doctors monitor how breast cancer tumours respond to therapy...
4 March 2013 - by Reuben Harwood 
Losing genes that help stabilise a cells DNA may explain why some cancers are resistant to treatment, say scientists...
4 February 2013 - by David O'Rourke 
The planned Tumuor Profiling Unit at The Institute for Cancer Research, London will focus on sequencing the DNA of cancer tumours to help diagnose and monitor different types of cancer, and to also identify those more likely to respond to particular treatments....
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.