Cancer screening may now have a new high-tech tool for older at-risk males. Researchers in Sweden have been studying the loss of male “Y” Chromosomes and related white blood cells to more accurately predict a patient’s cancer risk. UT Health/Memorial Hermann Oncologist, Dr. Sindu Nair says this testing led researchers to ask a critical question:
“Why is it that this loss of ‘Y’ Chromosomes may lead to an increased risk of cancer?”
She elaborates on the specificity to male patients:
“Women have no ‘Y’ Chromosomes. They carry two ‘X’ Chromosomes and men carry an ‘X’ and a ‘Y’ Chromosome. So the study was only relevant to men.”
The testing is based on the discovery that men with a common defect in their white blood cells are nearly four times as likely to die from cancer as those without the defect.
Scientists said that the screening could be common in clinics within five years and would allow high-risk men to be targeted with frequent testing and preventative treatments.
The discovery came as new research showed that half of people diagnosed with cancer now survive at least ten years, compared with just a quarter of patients in the 1970s. The latest study of more than 1,000 Swedish men suggests that white blood cells that lack the male “Y”-Chromosome could be less efficient at detecting genetic mutations in the body that have the potential to become malignant.
At the present time, international testing is required to make more accurate determinations for other ethnic groups beyond simple gender diagnoses of one ethnicity. As it stands, this has been a groundbreaking discovery that may someday help eradicate this ongoing health dilemma.