A team of researchers, including UNC associate professor Ethan Lange, has discovered an inherited mutation linked to a high risk of developing prostate cancer.
The team found that men with prostate cancer are 20 times more likely to carry the mutation, called HOXB13, than those screened without prostate cancer.
The mutation is more common in men with a family history of prostate cancer that strikes at an earlier age, Lange said.
Lange and Dr. Kathleen Cooney, a scientist at the University of Michigan, first identified the human chromosome region where the mutation was found.
The two have collaborated for 17 years on a University of Michigan Prostate Cancer Genetics Project.
The mutation was found in families of European descent, and different mutations on the HOXB13 gene were identified in families that are of African descent.