Scientists have discovered two new genetic variants that increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer.
The variants were discovered in the study of the DNA of more than 2,000 Australians with melanoma and over 4,000 without it. The study was led by Australia’s Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR).
The study found that if a patient had either variant they had a 13 percent increased risk of developing the cancer, reported Xinhua.
Lead QIMR researcher Stuart MacGregor said that finding these two genetic variants will help increase the ability to predict those individuals most at risk of developing the potentially deadly disease.
“This new finding is exciting as early diagnosis is critical in melanoma to improve the outcome of people who develop the disease,” MacGregor said.
“Identifying these variants is an essential step toward determining accurate risk estimates for the disease.
“This, in turn, means people will be better informed and can take the right precautions to avoid developing this increasingly common cancer,” he added.
MacGregor said unlike the other 18 variants that are already known, the two new genetic variant do not appear to act by simply changing skin pigmentation or mole count.
“One variant appears to play a role in how DNA is repaired following damage by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, while the other variant may play a role in tumour formation,” he said.
Melanoma is one of the most common cancers affecting young people in Australia. It is also the most life threatening type of skin cancer.
“Discovering more about the genetic basis of melanoma may help us to better diagnose and treat melanoma in the future,” MacGregor said.
“While we have identified further genetic links to melanoma, prevention is still our best defence,” he added.