NCI initiative will identify genetic risk factors for prostate cancer

March 16, 2006

The National Cancer Institute has launched a 3-year initiative to identify genetic alterations that make people susceptible to prostate and breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute has launched a 3-year initiative to identify genetic alterations that make people susceptible to prostate and breast cancer. The initiative, known as Cancer Genetic Markers of Susceptibility (CGEMS), will conduct scans of the entire human genome to identify common, inherited gene mutations that increase prostate cancer risk and will begin with a scanning of a total of 2,500 samples from men who have been diagnosed with the disease and men who have not.

One of the main goals of CGEMS is to identify genetic alterations that contribute to cancer risk, particularly the common low-penetrance, low-risk mutations, also referred to as susceptibility or modifier genes. The most common human genetic variations are called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). In important follow-up studies, CGEMS will analyze the promising SNPs and validate them in a series of large, population-based studies. The validations will be further investigated to develop new strategies for prevention, earlier detection, and treatment.

“CGEMS is among the first large whole genome scanning projects in cancer, and we are hopeful that its results will provide promising new insights into understanding genetic risk and common cancers,” said Stephen J. Chanock, MD, of NCI’s Advanced Technology Center Core Genotyping Facility.