Several groups looking at data from broad genetic studies have noticed differences in cancer risk for different populations according to ethnic make up.
Further investigation has yielded specifics on the significance of the difference.
An altered gene linked to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has been found to be twice as common in Hispanic patients.
The screening and genetic analysis was part of a group effort between the St. Jude's Children Research Hospital and Clinical Oncology Group to identify high risk cancer patients early in an attempt to improve overall patient care.
“For years we have known about ethnic and racial disparities in ALL risk and outcome, but the biology behind it has been elusive. Children who inherit high-risk versions of ARID5B are more likely to develop ALL in the first place and then more likely to fail therapy,” said Jun Yang, Ph.D., the paper’s corresponding author.
Patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia were analyzed for genetic variations as part of research performed by the study partner, Clinical Oncology Group, then compared to similar individuals without a history of cancer.
The study compared ARID5B in 330 Hispanic children with ALL and 541 Hispanic individuals without ALL. Researchers also checked the gene in 978 white ALL patients and 1,046 white individuals without the cancer.
For the purposes of the study, Hispanic was defined as having greater than 10 percent Native American ancestry.
Inheriting a single high risk variant of ARID5B meant an 80 percent increase in developing ALL, while inheriting two variants increased risk by four-fold. High risk ARID5B inheritance also meant a 50 percent increase in cancer recurrence.
This research will allow advanced screening of patients with ALL, and particularly intense monitoring of high risk patients in order to improve treatment success.
The research was funded in part by several merit awards, as well as the National Institutes of Health, the Jeffrey Pride Foundation, CureSearch and ALSAC.
The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Full disclosure of financial conflicts of interest was not freely available.