New Tool to Find Out Age for Onset of Prostate Cancer

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A clutch of researchers at the San Diego School of Medicine in the University of California has successfully created a genetic tool for finding out the age at which aggressive prostate cancer can begin. Surveys show that prostate cancer claims lives of about 26,000 men in America every year.

The online issue of British Medical Journal (BMJ) published in January contains a detailed description of the new tool that can enable informed decision making about who to screen for prostate cancer and the age for it too.

How it Steals a March Over Earlier Methods

At present, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening blood test is carried out to detect prostate cancer. However, PSA testing has its shortcomings. While it definitely lowers prostate cancer deaths, its indiscriminate usage also ups chances of false positive results and brings about excess-detection of tumors that are not aggressive and grow slowly. As a result they also necessitate other immediate medical interventions such as surgery, biopsy, or radiotherapy which can be easily done away with.

The group of researchers banked upon genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to find out if the genetic makeup for developing prostate cancer in a man could be used to uncover his chances of having the malignant malady. GWAS mine individual genomes to uncover slight variations called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that happen often in people with a specific disease.

Massive volumes of SNPs can be examined simultaneously in large groups of people using GWAS. Researchers in the particular experiment made use of data from more than 200,000 SNPs of men numbering to about 31,747 having a European lineage.

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