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Polygenic scores for cancer prevention: a new IARC webinar

The role of polygenic scores for stratified cancer prevention, and the genetic determinants for PSA levels to improve cancer screening utility will be debated during the sixth instalment in the World Cancer Report Updates webinar series.

28 Feb 2022

The latest World Cancer Report identifies polygenic risk score combined with classic epidemiological risks factors as one of the possible major drivers to improve early cancer detection and prevention strategy during the next decade.

To promote knowledge sharing and discussion on the topic, the next live webinar organised by IARC with the support of ESMO, will be about “Polygenic Scores for Cancer Prevention” on Wednesday 2 March 2022 at 17:00 CET, free upon registration. The event aims to provide answers to questions such as:

  • What is the current status of research on polygenic scores?
  • What are the main opportunities and limitations of polygenic scores for cancer prevention?
  • How could polygenic scores be applied clinically for cancer prevention in the future?

“When talking about cancer prevention and surveillance for early detection, it is key to have an accurate cancer risk estimation,” says Dr Judith Balmaña, Head of the Hereditary Cancer Genetics Group at Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology. “Polygenic risk scores that integrate the role of different SNPs in cancer risk are now becoming available to be incorporated together with non-genetic risk factors and provide a personalised estimate. We need to learn more on their performance in different cancer types to assess their actionability and potential clinical utility.”

The webinar, chaired by Dr James McKay, Deputy Head of the IARC Genomic Epidemiology Branch will provide a brief overview of emerging opportunities and discuss some limitations of the use of polygenic scores for developing risk-stratified approaches to cancer prevention, presented by Dr Nilanjan Chatterjee, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biostatistics and Genetic Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. Afterwards, Dr Linda Kachuri, Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California San Francisco and incoming Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Stanford University, USA, will discuss how using a polygenic score to correct prostate specific antigens (PSA) values can improve the clinical utility by reducing overdiagnosis and unnecessary testing and increasing detection of aggressive disease.

The webinar will take place on the World Cancer Report Updates learning platform, an online platform developed by IARC in collaboration with and with the support of ESMO, offering free access to learning material on research for cancer prevention in one single place, so that oncologists can keep abreast of it and expand their knowledge to better take care of their patients.

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