A gene that increases the likelihood of developing the most dangerous type of skin cancer has been identified by researchers at the Portuguese Institute of Oncology in Porto this month.
19 September, 2008 – 14:17
A study, presented at the Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Stockholm, showed the variation in a gene known as cyclin D1 raised the risk of developing the cancer by eighty percent compared to those without the mutation. Cyclin D1 is part of the mechanism that speeds up or slows down cell growth. Previous research has linked changes in the way it functions to several tumours, including skin and breast cancer.
Melanoma, caused by exposure to the ultraviolet light in sunlight, is an aggressive, difficult-to-treat cancer with an average survival rate of about six months for people with advanced stages of the disease. The World Health Organisation estimates that as many as 60,000 people each year die from excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, mostly from malignant melanoma.
Researchers analysed the blood of 1,053 volunteers, including 161 people with melanoma and 892 healthy men and women. They found that people carrying two copies of the variant were 80 percent more likely to develop melanoma.