ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A consortium of cancer researchers has identified four chromosome locations with genetic changes that are likely to alter a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer. The findings appear in Nature Genetics in an article authored by a Mayo Clinic researcher.
Researchers say that while more needs to be learned about the function of the specific chromosomal regions involved in susceptibility, the discoveries move them a major step closer to individualized risk assessments for ovarian cancer. In the future, women at greatest risk due to these and other inherited changes may be offered increased surveillance or preventive measures.
"In searching the genome, we came up with some surprises on chromosomes 2, 3, and 17," says Ellen Goode, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic genetic epidemiologist and lead author. "While examining the usual suspects in a region on chromosome 8, we found that SNPs associated with ovarian cancer risk were located quite a distance away from those associated with risk of other cancers, which suggest that they may act through a different mechanism." SNPs, single nucleotide polymorphisms, are common genetic variants associated, in this case, with cancer risk.
The findings come from a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) that spanned three continents. Following an initial study in over 1,700 cases, the researchers followed up with a study of over 24,000 women. They narrowed the focus to nine regions and confirmed that three loci (locations on the chromosome) were much stronger than the others and a fourth "approached genome-wide significance." These particular loci are associated with serous ovarian cancer, the most aggressive and common of the four main types of the disease.
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