Researchers have identified 187 new genetic variants linked to prostate cancer that can help predict who would or wouldn't develop the condition. The team led by researchers at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California also found 150 genetic variants from earlier research replaced by variants in nearby spots on the DNA double helix that better correlated with prostate cancer risk through the lens of the larger, more diverse sample.
"It's an important refinement to find markers that are better at capturing risk across populations," said Haiman, director of the USC Center for Genetic Epidemiology. "The idea of precision medicine and global medicine for all rely on including and integrating information across populations because the best marker determined in whites might not be the best marker overall."
The variants, derived from genomic information from close to 950,000 men, can help distinguish between the likelihood of aggressive and less serious cases.
In the study published in the journal Nature Genetics, the researchers compared genomic data from 156,319 prostate cancer patients with that of a control group, totalling 788,443. From the previous study, there was an 87 per cent increase in the number of prostate cancer cases, including men of African ancestry, 45 per cent from Latino ethnicity, 43 per cent from European ancestry and 26 per cent from Asian ancestry. Because many prostate cancer cases diagnosed today might never reach the point where they are life-threatening, leading to unnecessary treatment that can degrade the quality of life, differentiating between risk for aggressive disease is key.
Until now, the scientists' system for calculating risk scores has correlated with the likelihood of developing prostate cancer but lacked predictive value about how serious a given case may be. "We'll continue to improve this risk score and look for markers that help to distinguish aggressive from less aggressive disease," Haiman said. "Clinical trials will be required to evaluate the effectiveness of the risk score in helping doctors and patients make decisions about screening."