Genetic Markers Increase the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

First Posted: Aug 03, 2014 11:45 PM EDT

A recent study confirmed new genetic risk markers for pancreatic cancer.  Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have discovered an inherited DNA variation that could increase the risk of this potentially deadly health issue. 

For the study, researchers examined DNA from 7,683 patients with pancreatic cancer and 14,397 control patients without the problem, all of European decent and from the United States, Europe, Australia or Canada.

Researchers used sequencing technology to monitor over 700,000 sites of the genome that have single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These variants can result in a gene expression that's associated with the risk of having panctreatic cancer. 

Findings confirmed the presence of four risk-associated SNPS that had previously been identified in other studies. In addition, five new risk markers were discovered and a sixth showed borderline statistical significance.

With these findings, researchers discussed the need for more proper screening methods in the future.

"Currently there is no population screening program for pancreatic cancer, which in 80 percent of cases is discovered when it's too late to allow curative surgery - the cancer has already spread," said lead study author Brian Wolpin, MD, MPH, in a news release

Researchers hope to create a "risk stratification tool" that could be used in primary care practice to more accurately identify who should undergo screening for the health issue, with future research. 

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