Healthier Me: Genetic Markers Reveal Cancer Risks - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Healthier Me: Genetic Markers Reveal Cancer Risks

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In Thursday's Healthier Mescientists say they've discovered new ways in which small changes in our DNA can increase the risk for breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.

It is a trove of new genetic information about cancer that could soon help millions of patients: researchers have found nearly 50 new markers for breast cancer, 26 for prostate cancer, and nearly a dozen for ovarian cancer.

Groundbreaking studies of more than 200,000 people in some 200 labs around the world  almost doubled the number of gene variations known to affect risk for some of the deadliest cancers.

 This new genetic information could soon lead to new blood tests to help determine how much a person is at risk and how serious the cancer might be.

Because the research involved so many subjects, some of the tests should be in your doctor's office in a year or two, with others coming further down the road. 

The explosion of genetic information has been made possible through the development of robotic machines capable of identifying the slight differences in the DNA which signal cancer risk. Finding these variations used to take months or years; now it takes just days.

Dr. Fergus Couch, Mayo Clinic: "We started this project four years ago, and already we're at an endpoint where we can make tremendous benefits for the patients. We really thought we'd be doing this for 10, maybe 15 years before we'd see an outcome."

The tests will also help to identify more families with a high risk for cancer, allowing people like Julie Olbering - one of five girls - and her loved ones to make better-informed decisions

Experts say it's a gigantic step toward the goal of personalized medicine: giving individuals and families exactly the information and the treatment they need.

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