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Genetic Testing Could Explain A Third Of The Inherited Risk Of Prostate Cancer

Update Date: Sep 15, 2014 09:39 AM EDT

A study has identified 23 new genetic variants linked to increased risk of the prostate cancer. The findings could help scientists explain a third of the inherited risk of the disease. 

The study brings the total number of common genetic variants linked to prostate cancer to 100, and testing for them can identify 1% of men with a risk of the disease almost six times as high as the population average, the press release added.

The study found that top 100 variants identified 10 percent of men with a risk almost three times as high as the population average, adding that this was high enough to investigate whether targeted genetic screening was merited. 

Researchers plan to lead a new clinical trial to test whether genetic screening can be effective. 

 "Our study tells us more about the effect of the genetic hand that men are dealt on their risk of prostate cancer. We know that there are a few major genes that are rare and significantly affect prostate cancer risk, but what we are now learning is that there are many other common genetic variants that individually have only a small effect on risk, but collectively can be very important. To use the playing cards analogy again, sometimes multiple low cards can combine to form a high risk score," said Professor Ros Eeles, Professor of Oncogenetics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, in the press release.

"We can now explain a third of the inherited risk of prostate cancer, and will shortly be conducting a clinical trial to find out whether testing for genetic variants in men can successfully pick up the disease early, and help direct targeted interventions for patients."

The research has been published in the journal Nature Genetics. 

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