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Study Tracks Cancer Screening Roles for Polygenic Risk Scores in UK

An Institute of Cancer Research- and UK National Health Service-led team reporting in Lancet Oncology explores polygenic risk score (PRS) utility for eight cancer types, bringing in available age-stratified cancer incidence profiles collected in the UK between 2016 and 2018. In particular, the investigators consider the performance of various PRS models and SNP collections, as well as potential benefits or risks of stratifying breast, prostate, colorectal, pancreatic, ovarian, kidney, lung, and testicular cancer screening strategies with PRS profiles. By estimating authentic cancer cases that would be found within high-risk PRS groups, the authors suggest that the PRS-stratified screening approach has the potential for preventing more cancer deaths than unstratified screening strategies when it came to breast cancers in 40- to 49-year-olds, colorectal cancers occurring in 50- to 59-year-olds, and prostate cancers in 60- to 69-year-olds. "[O]ur modeling suggests modest potential efficiency gain in cancer case detection and deaths averted for hypothetical new PRS-stratified screening programmes for breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer," they report, cautioning that "[r]estriction of screening to high-risk quantiles means many or most incident cancers will arise in those assigned as being low-risk."