Science and Race
Three more genes that raise bowel cancer risk, including one affecting only some races, have been identified.
UK scientists found one of the genes increased risk in people of European descent, but not Japanese people, reports the journal Nature Genetics.
With four gene mutations already linked to the cancer, scientists hope to work on ways to predict people at high risk.
They hope eventually to catch the disease earlier, or prevent it completely in some people.
Bowel cancer is frequently not detected until the disease is well-established, sharply reducing the chances of successful treatment.
The NHS is currently rolling out a bowel cancer screening programme across England, which, it is hoped, will reduce the number of deaths by spotting cancer at an early stage.
However, knowing which genes increase the risk of cancer could allow doctors to find people who need to be followed more closely, or even receive preventive treatment before cancer has emerged.
The three latest gene mutations to be linked to bowel cancer are in addition to four others which point to increased risk, and scientists are now becoming more confident that, together, they could allow high-risk patients to be identified.
However, one of the genes has been found to increase risk in people of European descent, but not Japanese people - the first time this has been found for a bowel cancer gene.