Hope for bowel cancer sufferers as scientists discover gene link
Scientists have found the first common genetic trait linked with an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, a discovery that could eventually lead to better diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Three teams of researchers sifted through the entire human complement of genes to make the find, which they believe will result in a better understanding of why bowel cancer develops in genetically susceptible people.
Each year in the UK some 35,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, which is the third most common cancer after breast and lung, with an annual death rate of 16,100. Around half of the population carry the genetic variant that has now been linked to bowel cancer.
Scientists calculate that carrying the variant increases the risk of developing the disease by about 20 per cent. The lifetime risk of developing bowel cancer is one in 20 for the general population, but this increases to one in 16 for people who have inherited the genetic variant, according to Cancer Research UK, which helped to fund the studies, published in the journal Nature Genetics.
"Each team carried out a whole genome search and pinpointed a gene that is faulty more often among bowel cancer patients than in people without the disease," said a spokeswoman for the charity. "They narrowed down the gene's location within the genome to a region called 8q24.
"Scientists recently found that men who have the same genetic variant are at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer," she added.
Some other genes are already known to contribute to an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, but these are very rare - only about one person in every 2,500 carries any of the known bowel cancer genes.
Both genes and environment - such as diet or lifestyle - contribute to the risk of bowel cancer. Scientists estimated that about a third of bowel cancers have a genetic component, and just 5 per cent of them are linked to previously known genes. The latest studies, however, suggest that the 8q24 genetic variant is linked to about one in 10 bowel cancers diagnosed each year in Britain - about 3,500 cases. Although this is the most important genetic link yet, it is still too small for it to be used as a diagnostic test.
"This is an important first step, but we still have a long way to go before we have a complete picture of all the genes that are involved in inherited bowel cancer risk," said Professor Ian Tomlinson of Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute. "Eventually it may be possible for scientists to design treatments to prevent people at increased risk from developing bowel cancer altogether."
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...