Nav: Home

IU researcher makes skin cancer discovery

February 18, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indiana University cancer researcher has identified eight new genomic regions that increase a person's risk for skin cancer.

Jiali Han, Ph.D., and colleagues discovered eight new loci--locations on a person's genome--that are susceptible to the development of squamous cell skin cancer. Han is the Rachel Cecile Efroymson Professor in Cancer Research at IU School of Medicine, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI, and a researcher at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

Researchers previously identified 14 loci with increased risk for squamous cell skin cancer. This study confirmed those findings while adding eight new genomic locations, bringing the total identified risk loci to 22. Their research is published this month online in Nature Communications.

"This is the largest genetic-associated study for squamous cell carcinoma of the skin," Han, an epidemiologist, said. "Our multidisciplinary research sheds light on new biology and the etiology of squamous cell carcinoma, confirming some important genes and also identifying genes involved in this particular cancer development."

Han and colleagues analyzed six international cohorts totaling approximately 20,000 squamous cell skin cancer cases and 680,000 controls, or people who haven't had squamous cell skin cancer. More than one-third of the genomic data came from genetic testing company 23andMe research participants. Additional datasets came from the Nurse's Health Study, Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the Icelandic Cancer Registry and the Ohio State University Division of Human Genetics sample bank.

Research findings confirmed that pigmentation genes can also be a person's skin cancer susceptibility gene, but they also identified additional molecular pathways.

"We can certainly say there is some genetic overlap between squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma--the three major types of skin cancer--but we also found some genes are specific for squamous cell carcinoma," Han said.

Squamous cell and basal cell are also known as non-melanoma skin cancers. Both usually respond to treatment and rarely spread to other parts of the body, according to the National Cancer Institute. Melanoma is more aggressive, however, and can spread to other parts of the body if it's not diagnosed early.

Physical genomic traits such as fair skin, freckles, blue eyes and brown hair were associated with the risk loci. Researchers have long known that fair skin and sun exposure are risk factors for squamous cell skin cancer.

"Avoiding sun exposure is always the primary prevention strategy, regardless of your skin pigmentation," Han said.

Han and collaborators are continuing to build the population sample to identify more risk loci. Even with the 22 genomic regions identified, the study found those explain only 8.5 percent of the heritable risk for squamous cell skin cancer.
-end-
Kativa Sarin, M.D., Stanford University School of Medicine, is the co-lead author. Additional authors of the study are Yuan Lin and Wenting Wu, Fairbanks School of Public Health; Roxana Daneshjou, Adam Rubin, Paul Khavari and Alice Whitemore, Stanford University; Andrey Ziyatdinov and Peter Kraft, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Gudmar Thorleifsson and Simon N. Stacey, deCODE genetics/Amgen Inc., Reykjavik, Iceland; Luba M. Pardo, Tamar Nijsten, Andre Uitterlinden, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Amanda E. Toland, Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center; Jon H. Olafsson, Bardur Sigurgeirsson and Kristin Thorisdottir, Landspitali-University Hospital and University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland; Eric Jorgensen, Kaiser Permanente Northern California; Kari Stefansson, University of Iceland; and Maryam M. Asgari, Massachusetts General Hospital.

The study was supported in part by grants from the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health (grant number R44HG006981), the National Cancer Institute (R01 CA49449, P01 CA87969, UM1 CA186107, UM1 CA167552, R03 CA219779, K23 CA211793) and Indianapolis-based Walther Cancer Foundation.

Indiana University School of Medicine

Related Public Health Articles:

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.
Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.
The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.
BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.
The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.
Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.
Bloomberg American Health Initiative releases special public health reports supplement
With US life expectancy now on the decline for two consecutive years, the Bloomberg American Health Initiative is releasing a supplement to Public Health Reports, the scholarly journal of the US Surgeon General.
More Public Health News and Public Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.