British scientists have discovered the 100th gene for prostate cancer and this could result in a life-saving genetic test for the disease.
Almost 11000 Britons die from the disease annually, and researchers believe that this discovery may allow them to determine if a man’s DNA places him at higher than the average risk of the cancer.
Around 42000 prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in Britain annually. This makes it the most common male cancer, however there is no accurate test for diagnosis.
Scientists based at Cambridge University, the Institute of Cancer Research in London and in the US examined the DNA of around 90000 males.
Half of the males had the cancer and when comparing their DNA to that of healthy males, it revealed certain genes that increased their risk of the cancer. Scientists were already aware of 77 genes, but this research raised the number to 100, which is sufficient for the creation of a genetic test.
Scientists hope that the test will allow them to determine how dangerous the cancer is in the individual. Prostate cancer is so slow-growing that it may never cause any problems and the male may eventually die of another cause. However, a dangerous, fast-growing form will need urgent attention.
The difficulty in determining the strain of the cancer could result in males with the less severe from receiving unnecessary, painful treatment.
Image Credit: Libertas Academica