University of Hawaii System newsletter

Cancer Research Center Finds Genetic Marker

Posted on | September 4, 2009 | Comments Off on Cancer Research Center Finds Genetic Marker

An international team of researchers including Mānoa Professor Marc Goodman, Research Epidemiologist Galina Lurie, Michael Carney and Associate Professor Keith Terada discovered a new genetic marker associated with ovarian cancer risk. The discovery was published in Nature Genetics. The study used a genome-wide association design in which the frequencies of hundreds of thousands of genetic variations across the genome are compared between large numbers of cases and unaffected controls. Overall, more than 20,000 women participated in this study.

The new marker was found on chromosome 9, close to the BNC2 (basonuclin 2) gene that encodes a protein, which plays a role in regulation of DNA transcription and is highly expressed in reproductive tissues. This marker is present among 32 percent of women and contributes an estimated 0.7 percent to ovarian cancer risk. The association of this marker with risk was stronger for serous carcinoma, the most common (and most lethal) ovarian cancer subtype.

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States. The five-year relative survival rates are currently 93 percent for localized disease, 71 percent for regional disease, and 31 percent for distant disease. However, only 25 percent of women with ovarian carcinoma are diagnosed at a localized stage mostly because symptoms are vague and a reliable screening method for early detection has not been established.

Read the news release.