JUN 14, 2017 01:33 PM PDT

New Genetic Markers Found For Testicular Cancer

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Genetic testing now exists for a number of cancers in the reproductive organs, such as ovarian and breast cancer. However, it’s surprising that genetic testing for testicular cancer isn’t as far along in development. But now, researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in London say that they’ve found a number of new genetic markers associated with the male disease.

Image credit: Pixabay.com

Testicular cancer is not very common as compared to other cancers. A man’s lifetime risk of developing the disease is less 0.5 percent. Treatment is based on the tumor grade, and can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and even high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant.

In hoping to further the genetic knowledge of testicular cancer, the research team analyzed DNA samples from over 7,300 men with testicular germ cell cancer (TGCT). They compared these genetic profiles to those of over 23,000 healthy men.

The analysis yielded a considerable number of new genetic loci that are associated with testicular cancer risk. "With this analysis, we've identified eight new loci in previously unknown regions, said Katherine Nathanson, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and the study’s lead author. "We've also found four new loci in previously identified regions."

This "roughly [doubles] the number of known TGCT risk loci to 44," they wrote. In particular, the genetic regions also have biological relevance to the disease - some associated genes are involved in the male germ cell development and maturation.

"Compared to other cancer types, we have accounted for a high proportion of site-specific heritability with fewer loci," Nathanson said. Furthermore, Nathanson believes the collection of genetic markers could explain 37 percent of hereditary testicular cancer, that is testicular cancer that’s passed from father to son.

"Even though this cancer is curable, it shows how much we still have to learn about this particular disease type," Nathanson said. "These findings can guide us when trying to determine which patients are at a high risk of developing disease and who among them should be screened."

Additional source: MNT

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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