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Researchers Find New Genetic Risk Markers In Pancreatic Cancer

Update Date: Aug 04, 2014 12:57 PM EDT

A large DNA analysis of people with and without pancreatic cancer has identified many new genetic markers signaling increased risk of developing the highly lethal disease, according to a new report. 

The markers mentioned in the reports are variations in the inherited DNA code at particular locations along chromosomes. Majority of these variations in the DNA code were identified that influence an individual's risk for pancreatic cancer, the press release added. 

Further study of these DNA variants may help explain on the molecular level why some people are more or less susceptible to pancreatic cancer than the average person. 

The findings can also be used to identify people at increased risk who then might be candidates to undergo MRI or ultrasound scanning to look for early and treatable pancreatic tumors. 

"Currently there is no population screening program for pancreatic cancer, which in 80 percent of cases is discovered when it's too late to allow curative surgery - the cancer has already spread," said  Brian Wolpin, MD, MPH, first author of the report in the press release. 

The only healthy individuals currently screened for pancreatic cancer are members of high risk families. "But the field has been struggling to find factors that can identify people at highest risk in the general population, when a strong family history is not present," Wolpin added. 

The report has been published in the journal Nature Genetics.

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