Scientists can now explain one-third of the inherited risk for prostate cancer, thanks to a large study that identifies 23 new genetic variants associated with an increased risk for the disease.
The data study, analyzing more than 87,000 individuals of European, African, Japanese, and Latino ancestry, is the largest of its kind and is the first to combine multiple studies across different ethnic populations.
“The goal of this research is to identify regions of the genome that contribute susceptibility to prostate cancer that could be used for understanding a man’s future risk of developing this disease,” says principal investigator Christopher Haiman, professor of preventive medicine at Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California.
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among American men, behind skin cancer. It is estimated that nearly 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer and more than 233,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2014.
Past genome-wide association studies identified 77 variants associated with prostate cancer risk. The additional 23 variants found in the new study “give us another piece in the puzzle,” Haiman says, and new targets for researchers looking into the causes of prostate cancer.
“There is still a lot we do not know about the role of genetics and prostate cancer,” explains study coauthor Barbara Nemesure, professor in the department of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University, and director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Stony Brook University Cancer Center.
“But as a result of this study, we now have 23 additional and promising loci to further interrogate. This work represents a significant step forward in helping us to better understand the complex and somewhat allusive genetic contributions to this disease.”
The combined studies that are part of this research have been conducted around the world over the past seven years. The NCI GAME-ON Consortium is the primary source of funding for the work.
The study is published in Nature Genetics.