June 3, 2009

Testicular Cancer Gene Discovered

Scientists have discovered a genetic risk factor associated with a three-fold increase in risk for testicular cancer.

The most common cancer among young men, rates of testicular cancer have doubled in the United States in the last 40 years, affecting seven out of 100,000 white men each year. Scientists have just discovered men with two copies of the common version of the c-KIT ligand gene have a 4.5-fold higher risk of testicular cancer than men who have copies of the less common version of the gene. Researchers say this finding can help doctors understand which men are at high risk of the disease.

"These variants are the first striking genetic risk factors found for this disease to date," Katherine L. Nathanson, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, was quoted as saying.

While environmental exposures are believed to play a role in testicular cancer incidence, this new finding sheds light on the role genetics also play in disease susceptibility.

SOURCE: Nature Genetics, published online May 31, 2009