WEDNESDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Critical clues to understanding who is at the greatest risk for particular types of cancer may be found in "spelling mistakes" contained in a person's DNA.
In a step toward personalized medicine and the ability to better understand individual risk factors for three common hormone-related cancers, a large team of international researchers have unveiled what might be the clearest picture to date of the genetic alterations associated with some forms of the disease.
Although more research is needed, the study authors predict that genetic testing to help determine a person's risk for some of the most potentially deadly cancers may be available within five to 10 years.
"We think the most immediately practical application will be in people already at risk for the disease and going through the genetic counseling process," said Douglas Easton, a professor of genetic epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, in England.
A combination of five studies that include work from 160 different research groups has identified more than 80 genetic errors that are linked to increased risk of breast, prostate and ovarian cancers. The research was published March 27 in the journal Nature Genetics.
More than 2.5 million people worldwide are diagnosed with these three types of cancers each year, according to the researchers.
Everyone has some of the so-called spelling mistakes, often called "snips" (single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs), the researchers said. Problems are signaled by errors in the sequence of genetic elements (bases), where letters representing the elements -- A, G, C and T -- are incorrectly placed.
The sequence of bases in a portion of a DNA molecule, called a gene, carries the instructions that are needed to create a protein. Although some errors affect small things, others may be respons
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