IU cancer researcher identifies new areas in human genomes linked to skin cancer risk
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. 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."
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.
Read the full story here