NEJM paper showed that Swedish men with all five mutations and a family history had a 9.5 times higher risk.

Researchers report the identification of a gene marker array for hereditary prostate cancer that along with family history appear to raise risk nine times compared to men without such markers.

In the study, which was carried out in Swedish men, the scientists drew blood from 2,893 prostate cancer patients and 1,781 men without the disease. Using DNA from the blood cells, they found 16 SNPs in five different regions: three on chromosome 8q24, one on chromosome 17q12, and one on 17q24.3. All were more common in men with prostate cancer than those without the disease, according to the reasearch team.

The individual changes were ones previously linked to prostate cancer and other diseases, they add. Each variant alone was associated with moderate risk, but the effect wasn’t considered significant enough to justify testing individuals. The scientists explain that they chose the best SNPs from each of the five regions and tested their cumulative effect on prostate cancer risk.

As the number of associated SNPs increased, so did risk. Men with four or more of these SNPs were nearly 4.5 times more likely to have prostate cancer, independent of PSA results. Men with five or six of six risk factors, each SNP plus a family history of prostate cancer, were nearly 9.5 times more likely to have the disease.

Further analysis revealed that 46% of prostate cancer cases in this population were due to these risk factors. But the scientists estimate that almost 90% of the Swedish population carries one or more of the five SNPs. The population also suffers from higher-grade prostate and other cancers. The investigators plans to sample DNA from U.S. populations of men to determine if these genetic changes prevail outside of Sweden.

The team consisted of researchers from Johns Hopkins Brady Urological Institute, Wake Forest University, and the Karolinska Institute. The results were published online in the January 16 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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