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SNPs, Family History Raise Prostate Cancer Risk

Men with multiple factors face much higher risk of the disease, Swedish study suggests

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Carrying multiple single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with prostate cancer, along with a family history of the disease, creates a cumulative risk of prostate cancer in men, according to research published in the Jan. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

S. Lilly Zheng, M.D., of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues investigated 16 SNPs from five chromosomal regions that had previously been associated with prostate cancer. The researchers used DNA samples from 2,893 subjects with prostate cancer and 1,781 controls, all Swedish.

The authors estimated that together, the most significant SNP from each region and the family history accounted for 46 percent of the prostate cancer cases. Men with any five of these factors had a much higher risk of the disease (odds ratio 9.46) compared to men with none of the factors. This cumulative effect was independent of prostate-specific antigen levels at diagnosis.

"The work of Zheng et al. is further evidence that prostate cancer has complex and multifactorial origins. As we move toward the age of individualized medicine, the ability to tailor the risk assessment, prevention, diagnosis and therapy of prostate cancer to the individual patient is likely to continue to evade the application of simple algorithms," writes Edward P. Gelmann, M.D., of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, in an accompanying editorial.

Several institutions involved in the study have filed a patent application for technology and results described in the study.

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