SCIENTISTS in Birmingham are working on ways to improve the detection of kidney cancer.
Using his £156,226 grant from the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) Professor Eammon Maher and his team at the University of Birmingham aim to understand how some people inherit a higher risk of developing kidney cancer than others.
While kidney cancer is relatively uncommon, there have been reports of increasing incidence and mortality across the world, including the UK. Some, but not all, of this increase is believed to be due to the wider application of diagnostic imaging techniques resulting in more kidney tumours being found incidentally.
“Kidney cancer can run in families and some people may inherit an incorrect or altered gene causing a higher risk of developing kidney cancer,” explained Professor Maher.
“In certain cases, this altered gene can be detected and family doctors can test to determine who will benefit from cancer screening. However, in most families, it is not clear how the risk is passed on and this is the focus of my AICR grant.
“By studying patients with inherited kidney cancer I hope to identify new genes that are responsible and to find out if these are also involved in non-inherited kidney cancers.”
Dr Lara Bennett, AICR's Scientific Communications Manger said Professor Maher's findings could be important for identifying those who may be at risk of developing inherited kidney cancer.
“These people and their close relatives could then be monitored and any cancer caught early when treatment has a much better chance of being successful,” she explained.