Common gene variants are associated with increased risk of 3 different types of cancer, according to studies published online in this week’s Nature Genetics.
Stephen Chanock and colleagues analyzed the genomes of thousands of pancreatic cancer patients and found that genetic variation at ABO, an important gene that regulates blood type, is associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer. This finding provides an explanation for studies done in the 1950s and 1960s, which suggested that individuals with the A, AB, or B blood type have increased risk of pancreatic cancer, compared to individuals with blood group O. Pancreatic cancer is a highly fatal disease, leading to mortality in most cases.
Paul Pharoah and colleagues scanned the genomes of thousands of ovarian cancer cases and identified a genetic variant on chromosome 9p22 that is associated with increased risk of this disease. Ovarian cancer also has poor survival rates, with about half of diagnosed cases surviving 5 years past diagnosis.
Finally, Xifeng Wu and her team found that variation in the prostate stem cell antigen (PSCA) gene is associated with increased risk of urinary bladder cancer in US and European populations. Although urinary bladder cancer is more common in Western countries than pancreatic and ovarian cancers, urinary bladder cancer has a better survival rate, with approximately 80% of diagnosed cases surviving past 5 years of diagnosis.