Recent Kidney-Cancer Breakthroughs
Scientists have just reported in the journal Nature that theyve discovered a faulty gene linked to more than a third of all kidney cancers. Many in the medical community are saying this breakthrough is the biggest in fighting the disease in two decades. The finding will not only help researchers understand how the cancer develops but may also lead to new treatments and earlier diagnosis.
The exact reason why the gene is damaged or "turned off" has yet to be discovered. However, by identifying the gene, experts hope they will be able to find therapies to target the cancer in the future.
Everyone has the gene, known as PBRM1, but if it gets damaged it can lead to kidney cancer. A mutated PBRM1 was found in around 40 per cent of kidney-cancer victims; this is most significant finding since another mutation, VHL, was discovered 20 years ago. Scientists believe that the two genes together are implicated in the "majority" of kidney cancers.
In adults, the most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma. Other less common types of kidney cancer can occur. Transitional cell carcinoma, which affects the ureters, can also begin in the kidneys. The incidence of kidney cancer seems to be increasing, though it isn't clear why. Many kidney cancers are detected during procedures for other diseases or conditions. Imaging techniques such as computerized tomography (CT) are being used more often, which may lead to the discovery of more kidney cancers.