Womb cancer genome scan reveals prostate cancer link

Apr 18, 2011

The first genome scan for womb cancer has revealed a genetic region that is associated with a reduced risk of the disease. The same region, called HNF1B, has been linked previously to lower prostate cancer risk in men.

The study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia, and Cancer Research UK, is the first to find a common for these two different cancer types.

The findings offer a tantalising hint that there may be shared mechanisms of disease that have not been recognised previously.

Women with the protective 'version' of the gene are on average 15-18 per cent less likely to develop , and men with the same version are 21 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer. However, the same gene has also been linked to a 10-14 per cent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Lead author Professor Douglas Easton, director of Cancer Research UK's Genetic Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, said: "This study is the first to highlight a potential link between womb cancer in women and in men, providing new insight into the underlying genes and mechanisms that lead to the development of both diseases.

"Understanding how these influence a person's risk of developing cancer is a crucial step in being able to identify high-risk groups who may benefit from closer monitoring or measures to reduce their risk of developing the disease."

In the hunt for genes linked to womb cancer, the researchers began by scanning the genomes of 1265 womb cancer patents and comparing them to the genomes of 5190 women who did not have the disease.

This allowed them to pinpoint a total of 47 different points in the genetic code with one-letter alterations - known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) - where genes linked to womb cancer were most likely to be found.

They then narrowed down their search by looking specifically at these regions in a further 3957 patients with womb cancer and 6886 without the disease.

This left just three SNPs that were shown to be significantly linked to a decreased risk of womb cancer, all of which overlapped with the gene HNF1B on chromosome 17.

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said: "This is only the second common genetic region to have been linked to the development of womb cancer.

"With faster, cheaper genome technologies now becoming available, we are on the cusp of being able to carry out powerful genome studies involving much larger groups of people. This will allow scientists to pinpoint subtler associations, helping to build a more complete picture of how genes influence a person's risk of developing womb cancer. Ultimately this will pave the way for more targeted approaches to treating and diagnosing the disease."

The study is published online today in the journal 'Nature Genetics'.

Explore further: Project pinpoints 12 new genetic causes of developmental disorders

More information: Spurdle AB et al. Genome-wide association study identifies a common variant associated with risk of endometrial cancer. Nat Genet 2011 [epub ahead of print]

Related Stories

Vitamin D levels, prostate cancer not linked

Feb 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a detailed review, funded by Cancer Research UK, scientists looked at all the available evidence and found there was no link between the amount of vitamin D in men’s blood and the ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.