MONDAY, Aug. 3, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Common variants of a gene that determines blood type are associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, according to U.S. researchers.
They studied the genomes of more than 4,300 pancreatic cancer patients and more than 4,500 people without the disease. This analysis found that people with variants of the ABO gene that produce the blood types A, B or AB are associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Those with blood type O aren't at increased risk for the disease, the researchers noted in the report published online Aug. 2 in the journal Nature Genetics.
The findings are consistent with previous research that showed an increased risk of pancreatic and gastric cancer among people with blood types A, B and AB, according to a news release from the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
"Although it will take much more work, this finding may lead to improved diagnostic and therapeutic interventions that are so desperately needed," study co-author Patricia Hartge, of the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, said in the news release.
Pancreatic cancer, the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, is hard to detect. Many patients are not diagnosed until the disease has spread to other parts of the body. Fewer than 5 percent of patients survive for five years. Pancreatic cancer risk factors include diabetes, smoking, race and family history of the disease.
The American Cancer Society has more about pancreatic cancer.