In the second report, Dr. Stephen Chanock, head of the Genomic Variation Section at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and his colleagues found genes associated with prostate cancer on chromosomes 7, 10 and 11, as well as nine other gene locations that are suggestive of an association with prostate cancer.
"We are finding the places in the genome that are associated with the risk for prostate cancer," Chanock said. "The reason this is so important is that prostate cancer is a complex disease and is not due to one genetic defect or one environmental exposure," he said.
Similar findings are being reported with breast cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer, Chanock said. "The same thing is happening in other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke," he said. "Most diseases are complex and associated with multiple genes."
Exactly how each of these genes contributes to the risk for prostate cancer isn't clear, Chanock said. "Some of them may be responsive to environmental triggers, such as what you eat or what you inhale," he said. "Somewhere down the line, these findings may be clinically relevant, but it's too early to do that, because we are still discovering more."
In the third report, Julius Gudmundsson's team from deCODE Genetics Corp. in Iceland, found genes associated risk of prostate cancer on chromosomes 2 and X.
Although most of the gene variants are associated with a moderate risk, they are common in the population. Some of these variants are linked to more than less aggressive disease, Gudmundsson's team noted.
A substantial number of men have many risk variants that together confer clinically significant risk. In fact, 10 percent of men are at twice the risk and 1 percent of men are at three times the risk of developing the disease in the general population, Gudmundsson's group said.
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