Scientists discovered 23 previously unknown gene variations that can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
With the newly discovered genes, men now have a total of 10 genes that if combined can raise the risk of prostate cancer six times.
Experts say, this new discovery, published in the journal Nature Genetics, could lead to targeted genetic screenings among men to identify those who are more prone to prostate cancer, so that they can be closely monitored.
According to the scientists, one percent of men have a combination of these various genes, which makes them prone to prostate cancer by six folds. 10 percent of men have a lower combination of all these genes, which puts them at only three times more prone to the health condition.
The Research Tested Over 80,000 Men
This research from The Institute of Cancer Research University of Cambridge and the University of Southern California has involved 87,040 men from various parts of the world.
The scientists studied 43,303 men with prostate cancer and another 43,737 men coming from different heritage background, including Latino, Japanese, African and European.
These with foreign heritage allowed the scientists to study their genetic map to find out the most common gene variants associated to people with prostate cancer.
From these men, the researchers found 16 new gene markers that are linked to higher risk of prostate cancer among men from Europe. One of these gene markers leads to the early-onset of the disease. Meanwhile, seven gene markers are found among men with mixed heritage.
Research Prompts Routine Gene Check among Genetic Population
The new research prompts experts to study the feasibility of conducting routine genetic screening among the general population.
BARCODE is a new clinical test that would genetically screen men for prostate cancer. It is investigating if the newly discovered markers could improve genetic testing into diagnosing men with more dangerous types of prostate cancer and need treatment for prostate immediately.
What Professors Have to Say?
Oncogenetics Professor Ros Eeles of the The Institute of Cancer Research, London said their study is about how genes affect the risk of getting prostate cancer. There are genetic variants that gave minimal effect on the risk of prostate cancer, but when combined with other genetic variations can increase the risk significantly.
Prostate cancer expert professor Malcolm Mason of the Cancer Research UK said the new study provides a more comprehensive list of the genetic factors that can raise the risk of prostate cancer. This allows them to identify which man has prostate cancer, and which of them needs early treatment.
Research deputy director Dr Matthew Hobbs of the Prostate Cancer UK said this new study brings them closer to conducting targeted screening. The major challenge now is how to turn this information into a reliable test for a larger scale.
Hobbs pointed out that these new genetic variants can determine whether a certain type of prostate cancer is fatal or harmless. This would save those who are undergoing treatment but actually have less harmful types of the disease.