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Study of 87,000 Men Identifies Those with a Six-Fold Increase for Prostate Cancer


Stony Brook researcher says the findings, published in Nature Genetics, provide new regions for exploration in the quest to identify common genetic influences of prostate cancer

Cancer and genetic researchers can now explain one-third of the inherited risk for prostate cancer, after a large study identified 23 new genetic variants associated with an increased risk for the disease. Published in Nature Genetics, the study involved nearly 100 medical institutions internationally, including researchers from the Department of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

The main finding is that the study brings the total number of common genetic variants linked to prostate cancer to 100, and testing for them can identify 1 percent of men with a risk that is almost six times as high as the population average.

The study involved examining the genetic information from 87,040 men from all over the world. Approximately half had prostate cancer and the other half did not, serving as controls for the study. Men came from European, African, Japanese, and Latino heritage. The inclusion of several populations was done to improve the statistical power and increase the researchers' chances of identifying new variants of disease common to diverse ancestries.

"This multi-ethnic analysis is one of the largest of its kind, and the findings provide new opportunities to further investigate potential genetic influences to prostate cancer that are shared among diverse populations," said a study co-author Barbara Nemesure, PhD, Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook, and Director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Stony Brook University Cancer Center.

"There is still a lot we do not know about the role of genetics and prostate cancer," Dr. Nemesure explained. "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 research was funded in equal amounts by the National Institutes of Health in the United States, Cancer Research UK, Prostate Cancer UK, and the EU. The Institute of Cancer Research UK was the chief institutional coordinator of the study.
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