London: A groundbreaking worldwide research led by British scientists has found more than 80 genes which help determine from birth whether or not someone will develop cancer during their life.
The study conducted by 1,000 experts is the largest to look for faulty DNA that drives certain cancers and raises the prospects of more effective screening programmes for prostate, breast and ovarian cancer within five years.
"It can help us identify exactly what is driving different types of cancer, which could enable us to develop new therapeutic approaches," said Dr Harpal Kumar, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK , which part-funded the research alongside the UK-based Wellcome Trust.
"This groundbreaking international work highlights how complex cancer is," Kumar added.
The research, led by scientists at the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, compared the DNA of 200,000 people, half of them with cancer and half without, to unravel an individual`s inherited risk of the diseases.
"We`re on the verge of being able to use our knowledge of these genetic variations to develop tests that could complement breast cancer screening and take us a step closer to having an effective prostate cancer screening programme," said study author Prof Doug Easton.
Although about 60 per cent of the genetic risk factors for all three cancer types remain unexplained, the findings are a significant step forward in the understanding of the inherited causes of the condition.
In the case of prostate cancer, 16 of the 23 newly identified markers applied specifically to the most aggressive types of the disease, offering a wider scope on the best for of treatment.
"These results are the single biggest leap forward in finding the genetic causes of prostate cancer yet made. They allow us, for the first time, to identify men who have a very high risk of developing prostate cancer. If we can show from further studies that such men benefit from regular screening, we could have a big impact on the number of people dying from the disease," said Prof Ros Eeles of the ICR.