An international study co-led by Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) scientists and researchers in the United Kingdom has revealed 23 new genetic susceptibility locations indicating risk for prostate cancer.

The data study, analyzing more than 87,000 individuals of European, African, Japanese and Latino ancestry, is the largest of its kind and is the first that combines multiple studies across different ethnic populations.

“The goal of this research is to identify regions of the genome that contribute susceptibility to prostate cancer that could be used for understanding a man’s future risk of developing this disease,” said principal investigator Christopher Haiman, Sc.D., professor of preventive medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC. “This research also emphasizes the importance of common genetic variation in the etiology of prostate cancer, and the importance of large-scale international genetics consortia.”

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among American men, behind skin cancer. It is estimated that nearly 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer and more than 233,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2014.

Past genome-wide association studies identified 77 variants associated with prostate cancer risk. The additional 23 variants found in the new study “give us another piece in the puzzle,” Haiman said, and new targets for researchers looking into the causes of prostate cancer.

The combined studies that are part of this research have been conducted around the world over the past seven years. The research is chiefly funded by the NCI GAME-ON Consortium, formed to encourage interdisciplinary international collaborations.

The study, “A meta-analysis of 87,040 individuals identifies 23 new susceptibility loci for prostate cancer,” was published Sept. 14, 2014 in Nature Genetics.

— By Leslie Ridgeway